Aftermath (Sirantha Jax #5) by Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Roc (Penguin/Sept. 2011)
Sirantha Jax Series
During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, grimspace “jumper” Sirantha Jax decided to go it alone. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel-and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers. Now she’s on trial for dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, high treason…and her life.
Things have been tough for Jax. After altering the navigational beacons in space to avoid widespread attack by the vicious Morgut, she’s lauded for her bravery by those that know her, and condemned for the many lives lost as a result. No matter that many more lives would have been lost if she had done differently. Problem is, Jax acted on her own, and it cost her. It’s cost the lives of some she loves, and possibly the respect of the man she loves, March. So, the Conglomerate decides that she must stand trial, and charged with desertion, dereliction, mass murder, and high treason, Jax will have to gather her wits, and her friends around her, in order to survive.
Aftermath is the 5th novel in the Sirantha Jax series, and it’s just brilliant. The author really puts Jax through the emotional and physical ringer in this one, and while Jax is no stranger to strife, she’s also not the same fun-loving party girl she was in Grimspace. Older, wiser, and in many ways deeply wounded, Jax is a complete woman, in nearly every way, though her struggle to balance her love for March (and his new reason to settle down) and her need to jump is a constant stressor. However, one of my favorite parts of this series is her relationship with Vel, the Ithtorian bounty hunter that Jax forges a bond with early on in the series. Yes, Jax’s relationship with March is passionate and fraught with uncertainty and danger, but what she has with Vel is steady and pure, and I’ll admit, I’ve always rooted for them. Vel is a insectoid being from a world as far apart from ours as you can imagine, but he’s very different from his own kind, as is Jax, and this is part of why their relationship is so enduring, and their bond so strong. Their relationship is tender (no, I’m not talking about sex), enduring, complicated, and at times heart wrenching. It’s also one of the things that has brought me back to this series again and again. In Aftermath, Jax goes on trial, is thrust into another world with Vel that may reveal new secrets about the Makers, and learns new things about herself that will change her life forever. Don’t like sci-fi? Doesn’t matter. I didn’t think I liked it either, then I discovered Jax, and a whole new world opened up for me. Ms. Aguirre has struck gold with this series. The writing is superb, the pacing is flawless, and Jax’s world is nothing short of fascinating. Jax will delight you, break your heart over and over, and keep you coming back for more. I urge you to give this series a try, and will hope you’ll fall in love with Jax, just like I did.