The Premise: Sirantha Jax is finally on Ithiss-Tor, feeling way over her head as an ambassador for the Conglomerate. The Conglomerate needs her to bring the bug-like aliens, the Ithtorians to their side because they need an ally against increased attacks by the Morgut (a species of violent, frenzied eaters that see everyone as food). The Ithtorians are the only species the Morgut have ever respected. A “jumper” and former party-girl, Jax doesn’t feel in her element as someone responsible for such an important task, and March, who has always been at her side isn’t himself to help her.
My Thoughts: I would have finished this much faster if it weren’t for those pesky things like parents coming to visit, going to work, eating, sleeping, blah blah. All I wanted to do was read this book. I love space opera and science fiction romance. This is one of my favorite series. I think I’ve been anticipating it so much that by the time I got it I was getting lightheaded with giddiness and enthusiasm and I had a feeling that perhaps I was talking too much about it. You know that feeling where – internally you’re saying to yourself, why are you still talking, you idiot, now they know you’re crazy and Ann Aguirre will run away from you?! Yes, that was me on twitter this week. Ahem. So instead of doing what I briefly considered (just writing “SQUEE” in big, bold, underlined letters as a review), I’m going to try to be rational.
The thing is, it is so hard to stay quiet while reading this book, because there’s these elements you just want to talk to *someone* about. For me it was character development and the twists in the plot. I think Ann Aguirre has an evil streak. First of all, she wrote Wanderlust and ended it the way she did (if you read Wanderlust, you know what I mean). What she puts her characters through has me looking around desperately for someone so I can discuss what I just read.
First of all, you would think that by now, the third book, March and Jax’s relationship would be stable. But Aguirre did something that was the equivalent of pressing the “reset” button, and it is delicious. Neither March or Jax are the same people they were at the start of this series. In fact, I’d say that what they’ve been through has pretty much reversed their roles, although their old selves are in there somewhere. The first half of the book had me hanging on to every word or gesture between the two of them. I kept saying “intense”, because that was the word to describe it (besides “AHHH!!”). It was kind of torture, yet I was happy. It was well worth going through the wringer in Wanderlust and here to come out the other side. There was one particular scene early in the book where March and Jax talk that had me completely involved and.. well I just don’t have the words.
Aguirre seems to excel at character growth. Since we’re on Vel’s home planet and diplomacy is the reason for being there, Vel has the biggest role besides Jax, who is the narrator. I was really interested in finding out more about Vel in Wanderlust so I was pleased with learning more about him through Jax. The others were around less often (they weren’t needed for all the negotiations that Jax attended), but everyone in Jax’s circle is multi-faceted, and you catch a glimpse of inner depth in Jael, Dina, Hit, and Doc. If you’re familiar with Ann Aguirre, you know these aren’t always happy people either. Jax has a past full of scandal and self-preservation, and March is a psychic and soldier who had to do horrible things.
One of my favorite tropes is a stranger in a strange land or a culture-clash story, which we have here as Jax navigates the Ithtorians, some of who don’t consider humans very smart. They remember an earlier delegation which had disastrous results. There are many Ithtorians who would like Jax to fail in her talks, even enough to kill her. That’s why Vel is so important, explaining to Jax subtle gestures such as meaning to a bow. The story also covers what foods to eat, what markings on caripaces mean, and Ithtorian politics. I loved this. I also liked the description of the lush, tropical world the Ithtorians’ surrounded themselves in, which is nicely illustrated on the cover by Scott M. Fischer.
Overall: The best installment yet. If you read Wanderlust, you really *need* to read Doubleblind. And if you haven’t read this series and you like space opera/science fiction romance, I think you should pick it up. Every successive book is better than the last.
Genrereviews gave it 4 1/2 pints of blood (I thought this review was spot on).
Originally posted on janicu.vox.com