This series is definitely not the best thing I’ve ever read, but it is darn fun (especially if you like sci-fi and you’re a lady — it’s always refreshing to have a female lead in a sci-fi book, and it’s even better when they’re competently written). I was a bit worried at the start of this series that the romance would take over the plot, but I needn’t have worried. Love and romance is an integral part of Sirantha Jax’s story, but it’s also interconnected with her growth as a character, and in many ways, is only secondary to other choices she makes.
Aftermath picks up right after Killbox, with Jax having made a treasonous decision to act independently in the fight with the Morgut. Her rogue actions — resetting all the beacons that make interstellar jumps possible — prevent the majority of the Morgut fleet from reaching their destinations and beginning their colonization and destroying-all-humans objectives, possibly even stranding them in grimspace to die. But Jax’s unilateral actions have negative consequences as well. Acting without orders from her CO (who also happened to be her ex-lover, March), she prevented all-out war with the Morgut, but also killed 600 humans and temporarily destroyed interstellar travel. If she had been killed in the process, it would have been destroyed permanently, as she was the only one who could teach jumpers how to navigate the new beacons. Many view Jax as a hero, but many others (including those whose loved ones died as a result) wish her to pay for her crimes, and believe she was acting out of turn. Some even go so far as believing that she is holding the universe hostage by making herself the only person who can jump.
Jax’s situation is perhaps best summed up by a quote from the book, which not coincidentally was also pulled to use as a blurb on the back cover: “Dead heroes get monuments. Live ones get trials.”
My one major complaint really has nothing to do with the book itself, but that the back cover makes it seem like Jax’s trial is going to be the focus of the story. This led to me having all sorts of expectations that this was going to be Ann Aguirre’s version of a sci-fi legal thriller (since she’s already done her versions of military sci-fi and politicial sci-fi). In reality, the trial only takes about fifty pages, and then Jax is off on other adventures. As always, though, Aguirre doesn’t shy away from Jax experiencing the consequences of her actions. She is now infamous throughout the galaxy, and she has to live with what she did every day, not only in the way other people treat her, but in bearing the guilt of having killed hundreds of people (not to mention feeling guilty over the death of her two friends, Dr. Saul Solaith and his girlfriend (?) slash research partner, Evelyn (whom Jax had saved in the previous book and promised to protect). She also spends a significant portion of this book making amends for her past mistakes (ones she made in book one, so A+ on continuity). And as we near the end of the series, the question that looms not only in Jax’s head, but in ours, is this: Where does she go from here? Will she ride off into the sunset with March? Cause another disaster? Or will she finally give into temptation and let herself fade away into grimspace never to return?
I guess I’ll be finding out in about five minutes when I start Endgame. See you back here whenever I manage to finish.