This is the fourth book in the Sirantha Jax series, which is a wonderful space opera I’m addicted to. Another one I would have read sooner if not for the self-imposed book buying ban (which I’ve now completely given up on, the TBR wins).
**** Spoilers for the first three books from this point on ****
The Premise: After her job as a Conglomerate ambassador to Ithiss-Tor, Sirantha Jax and her crew finally have the time and the resources to work on some of their ultimate goals. The most important of these is to fight against the Morgut – terrifying, worm-like aliens who feast on the flesh of humans and who have been decimating outskirt planets and stations. Unfortunately, the random Morgut attacks begin to look less random, particularly in recent weeks.
My Thoughts: It kind of amazes me how much was packed into this book. The story starts right after the trip to Ithiss-Tor. Jax, March, Vel, Dina, Hit, Doc, Rose and Constance are on their way back to Emry Station to meet up with their friends and decide what to do next. Along the way they have an encounter with some slavers, and the experience serves to highlight how much criminals have been taking advantage of the lack of policing now that Farwan is no longer in power. When Chancellor Tarn asks March and the crew to build an armada of spaceships to keep slavers and piracy down, they agree. In the meantime, Jax is working on the goal of teaching those with the J-gene how to navigate ships without the structure of an academy. And then the Morgut become a problem that the newly minted armada cannot ignore.
That’s three big things right there – training jumpers, creating a space armada and fighting the Morgut. Three impossible things before breakfast as they say. You do have to put on a little bit of a suspension of disbelief because Jax and her friends tackle all of these in one book. In each aspect, Jax demands miracles from her crew and they deliver. Now, this is not something new in the series: Jax almost died when she overextended herself in grimspace, and Doc was able to do some amazing gene therapy combined with Jax’s unique ability to repair her brain at the expense of the rest of her system, but in Killbox, the medical genius is asked to do at least 3 new and unprecedented procedures. Dina, the resident mechanical genius is also asked to work on something that no one has ever done before with jump drives. You have to just accept that Jax has the vision to be right about what her crew can do, and that Doc and Dina are just miracle workers, and I think that this is something where your mileage may vary.
This suspension of disbelief is probably my biggest problem with this installment of the series. Otherwise, I think it does quite a bit to move the story forward and it is a book which ties in all three previous installments. Characters we haven’t seen or heard about since the first book make appearances. I had to refresh my memory about them, but they do contribute to the plot and where the series as a whole seems to be going. It was nice to be pleasantly surprised by their reappearance, and I liked that there was the feeling that every character had an important role in the story. And as I’ve come to expect from this author, these characters are three dimensional.
March and Jax… what can I say? I continue to love them. At this point in the series, they’re in an established relationship. It’s nice to see them together and working as two parts of a whole. I don’t feel any loss of chemistry between the two of them when things are going well. They’re very grateful for one another. Of course, there is something of a separation that they have to deal with in Killbox. The reason for their problems is one I understand, and it adds some worry about their relationship, but even when things look bad I believe in these two. I don’t think there is anything insurmountable, and I see Jax and March putting aside their personal feelings for what they believe in. If they can do that, they can find themselves back to each other. That’s what I held on to while I read the book. On the other hand, I can see the relationship drama added to the story as something some people may have an issue with. I did not.
P.S. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger but I was actually OK with where it ended.
Overall: Out of all the books, this one feels the most like it’s about the universe and Jax’s effect on it rather than it being a story about Jax herself. It has the biggest scope so far, with space battles and discoveries that will have far reaching consequences. The threads of earlier books start coming together in Killbox, and the ultimate battle between the Conglomerate and the Morgut is one step closer. Weaving among this, as always, is the complex, ever-changing, ever-human relationship between Jax and her crew. I think that despite a problem with believing how much was expected from the resident miracle-workers, this installment is as rich and varied as the others. And I don’t know many books that could keep me reading till 5 o’clock in the morning.
See Michelle Read – positive review
Fantasy Cafe – 8/10
Dreams and Speculation – 8/10
Smexy Books – 5/5
Lurv a la Mode – 5 scoops (out of 5)
Literary Escapism – positive review
Tempting Persephone – positive review
The Book Pushers – 5/5