Review: “Aftermath,” Ann Aguirre

Pros: Quite the emotional roller coaster!
Cons: Definitely a bit slow, but it works
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Ann Aguirre’s Aftermath (A Sirantha Jax Novel) is book five in the series about jump navigator Sirantha Jax, who somehow keeps getting swept up in great events. At the end of book four, Jax set out to change the beacon signals in order to keep the main portion of the Morgut army from reaching Conglomerate space. She struggles back to warn the Conglomerate pilots not to use grimspace to travel until she can teach people how to use the new signals, but she doesn’t catch everyone in time. Soon she finds herself on trial for mass murder, responsible for the deaths of some 600 people. Of course if she hadn’t done it billions would have died, but that doesn’t ease her feelings of guilt any.

This is definitely a somewhat slower, emotions-focused installment in the series. The relationship between Jax and March is complicated as always, particularly when he goes in search of his missing nephew. It’s Jax and Vel who take on the world together, becoming closer as they come to rely on each other. Vel’s the one who sticks around while Jax is on trial, and then again when Jax teaches others how to navigate the reprogrammed beacons. He’s the one who sees her through her attempts to return a clone of Baby-Z to Marakeq, and continues her efforts to free Loras’s people. It’s fascinating to watch their relationship evolve, especially after Vel shares his history with Adele with Jax. I’m glad there are such interesting characters in these books; since I’m so invested in them after the first four books I didn’t really have trouble with the slower, less action-oriented turn this book took.

I definitely cried at the end of this volume. There’s one more book in the series, and I’m so curious to see where things end. I can imagine a handful of directions it could go in. We do get to experience more of the worldbuilding in this book as well–there are details about the ancient aliens who created the grimspace beacons.

Content note for allusions to alien/human sex.

I can’t get into much more without spoiling details, so I’ll stop there. The series continues to be amazing!

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