Several times over the course of the last two books in this series, I found myself wondering whether this is what Ann Aguirre had planned for these characters from the beginning. We have ended in a place so very different from which we began, and in so many ways. This book felt nothing at all like Grimspace. The characters have changed drastically. Their relationships are fundamentally altered. Even the focus feels less about Jax and more about a bigger picture. It’s almost like reading an entirely different series after book 4, yet… Aguirre laid the groundwork for every one of her story arcs. It was done with care, so I guess that means that it feels different on purpose and I have mixed feelings about that.
There has been major upheaval in this world from day one. Corrupt governments, killers, political machinations. But it used to feel like an adventure. Here, it is simply a war. And the author has broken my heart so many times, I honestly spent the entire book trying to steel myself for whatever crushing blow she was planning to drop on me at the end. Would she kill Val? March? His kid? The sweet new froggy guy? It felt inevitable and it hung over me like a cloud the whole time. Maybe I should have gone into it spoiled, because the tension was almost too much for me be able to enjoy it.
It’s definitely dark. Maybe bleak is a better word. The entire story follows Jax’s mission to free Loras’s people and it can only be done through straight up war. Not the kind of intergalactic stuff we saw with the Morgut. This is dirty, regular war. And though it’s done through the lens of an alien environment, the horrors are all too human themes, like slavery and oppression. Things blow up. People harden or they die. Bleak. I find I don’t really like books about war.
I do, however, still very much care for these characters, even if only a few of the original team are still with us. The book starts off reminding us that this is not a love story. But it’s the love I have come to feel for Jax, March, and Vel that make the book worthwhile. And I do love them. Their relationships have become so complex that I found myself in the very unusual situation of not knowing exactly how I wanted it to play out. Vel is such a standout character and has been since day 1. Yet my heart has ached for March and Jax to get the chance to be together that they have missed time after time.
Aguirre takes a road I truly didn’t expect and, for me, I think that was what made me walk away from the book in a satisfied way. It wasn’t favorite in the series, but it gave me closure in a way I could live with… and, frankly, that was more than I though I could get. It had some good moments and in addition to the core trio, I enjoyed spending time with Zeeka and Sasha as well.
Overall, it’s been a spectacular series and one I would definitely recommend. I will read the spinoff books, but I think I need a little time to let this all sink in before my return to grimspace. It’s been pretty epic.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Ann Aguirre
Release Date: August 28, 2012