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Employee Review: Jax series by Ann Aguirre

Posted by Matthew W. on Mar 26, 2014

"Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled—which means that Jax is out of a job.


She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…" (from Goodreads.com)

I finished up "Wanderlust", the 2nd book in the Sirantha Jax series, and got invested enough to jump right into the next book, "Doubleblind".

This is a fun series, worthy of a read, with interesting and developed characters and a steady and quick-moving plot. Escapist literature most certainly has a place on my shelf, but it has to have two things, or I probably won't finish; characters that annoy/engage me and a plot that doesn't hinge on ridiculous McGuffins or extended exposition and internal dialogue. In short, it should NOT be a book where I'm constantly thumbing ahead to see if anything actually starts happening.

Gladly, Aguirre did not disappoint. Much. There were a couple parts of "Wanderlust" where I felt that Jax was merely being thrown from one absurd situation into another. She starts out with no ship, no plan, no agenda, only to face attempted assassination, flesh eating aliens, clan warfare, criminal syndicates, and her mother. She's also told she's the newest ambassador for the Conglomerate, despite having proven that she's totally unsuited to the task. She's got a crew of extremely dubious characters helping her and it all seems a bit contrived in some parts.

In some ways, absurd is the universe that Aguirre has created. It's messy and chaotic, and I had a bit of an eye-roll when I found that Jax's boyfriend could actually read her mind - what a dream for men everywhere. (She's mess as it is, so perhaps not such a gift.)

The main problem I had with "Wanderlust" is that it was mostly a setup for the next book where we really get into the meat of the story. In "Doubleblind", we finally get to Ithiss-Tor (having spent most of the previous book just getting to the planet) and Jax begins the real work of convincing the Ithtorians to help the Conglomerate. This makes for a far meatier book, with political and inter-personal struggles that are much more interesting.

The series is fun, entertaining and the characters grow and evolve as the story progresses. That's good for me, because it keeps me reading. The concept of Faster-Than-Light travel as "Grimspace", a region of space that can only be accessed by humans with the right genes and has a addictive/destructive effect on them, I found particularly intriguing. It makes Jax something of a junky/nihilist. Jumpers know that Grimspace will kill them, but they can't stay away from it. Jax has some special talents that make Grimspace especially appealing for her.

I plan on finishing the series, and recommended it for those looking for a light space-opera series.