REVIEW: Wanderlust by Ann AguirreFriday, September 19, 2008 13:00
Ann Aguirre debuted with Grimspace; the sci-fi page turner about a rag-tag group of space adventurers being chased by both sides of the law. Wanderlust continues the story of Sirantha Jax and her friends, immediately after the events of Grimspace have concluded. Once again, it’s a story that grabs you right off the bat.
Jax has been a “jumper” her whole career-she has a special genetic makeup that allows her, in close concert with a pilot, to navigate ships through space at faster than the speed of light. It’s all she’s ever known, and it’s provided her with a good life-but due to events in the previous book, that life is over. Jax has no job, no money, no prospects, no where to live. When she is asked to become an ambassador to another planet, she has little choice but to say yes. However, she smartly stipulates that her travel companions must be the crew from her ship, including her lover, the captain March. She will also be accompanied by Vel, who once hunted her as a bounty and then saved her life; their destination is Vel’s home planet. Along her way, she will face many enemies, both close and distant.
Jax is a very complex character. She is lonely down to her soul, and can’t quite believe that it’s worth risking the pain of loss when you let people in. She and March have formed a relationship, but it’s written with a lot of angst and second guessing on Jax’s part. In addition to her financial issues and the loss of her career, the author has also thrown another problem Jax’s way-she is sick and getting sicker all the time, and has no idea of what is making her ill.
One of the many things I loved about this book is how tightly written the main characters are, and there is some great dialogue. Ship’s mechanic Dina serves as Jax’s verbal sparring partner, Vel is there for discussions of philosophy and politics, March is emotion and work. Then there is Jael, a new shipmate who is something of an enigma to all of them.
In Aguirre’s world, humans have to deal with multiple species that see us as just a snack on the food chain. The Morgut and the Teras are two vile and terrifying examples, and both are featured prominently in Wanderlust. The Teras in particular affect the team; while visiting the planet Lachion, Jax and company get involved in a war that takes them deep underground to escape the flying Teras. They become separated by both space and ideals, and it’s this war that may split up the crew for good. Questions of love, debt, and honor come into play; but no character’s courage is ever in doubt.
It is not necessary to have read Grimspace before reading Wanderlust, but doing so will give you a much better understanding of not just the characters, but their experiences. March, in particular, is a much richer character for having read both books; I think each title on it’s own only shows one side of him. It also helps to know the back story on Lachion, but again isn’t necessary.
I am enjoying the way that Ann Aguirre is building her world slowly, layer by layer. The introduction of new characters like Jael, who feels like he will be a big player in the series, and Hit who provides such necessary comic relief, are done seamlessly. Then there is Constance-I have a feeling Constance is going to be my favorite character, she is genius.
Wanderlust is a great book, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing where Jax, March, and the rest of the crew end up next.
Sirantha Jax doesn’t take chances…she jumps at them…
Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled-which means that Jax is out of a job.
She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.
But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…
Read an excerpt here (scroll down).
Other books in the series: