Wanderlust, which just came out this past Tuesday, is the second book in Ann Aguirre’s Jax series following her debut novel Grimspace. Grimspace did have the distinction of being the most entertaining, easy to get into and most difficult to put down book I had read this year – at least until I read Wanderlust, which I liked even better. Fair warning for those who haven’t read Grimspace yet: some spoilers follow.
After exposing the corruption and deception of the Farwan Corporation, Sirantha has been sequestered from the rest of the crew and questioned for many days. Because of this, she is expecting more interrogation when she is summoned to the conference room. Instead Sirantha finds herself reunited with her telepathic boyfriend March and ship’s mechanic Dina and offered a job as an ambassador for the Conglomerate. If she accepts her first task is convincing the bug-like aliens on Ithiss-Tor to join the Conglomerate, since Sirantha is in the unique position of having befriended one of them, the bounty hunter Velith who was sent to kill her in the last book.
Although ambassador is not Sirantha’s first choice of jobs, it is difficult to refuse the money, especially after discovering her despicable husband wiped out all her funds when she was declared prematurely dead. To further complicate matters, Sirantha’s mother shows up and says someone has threatened to kill her unless her daughter takes the job. The would-be assassins consider Sirantha the only acceptable candidate; they are opposed to Ithiss-Tor joining the Conglomerate, and think Sirantha has an excellent chance of screwing up negotiations. In spite of the danger, Sirantha, March, Dina and Vel begin the journey to Ithiss-Tor with several mishaps along the way.
Wanderlust was never difficult to get into but the earliest chapters did not immerse me into the book quite as quickly as its predecessor did – mainly since there was a lot of recap interspersed with new plot in the first chapter. The viewpoint is first person from Jax’s (often humorous) point of view so when she kept interjecting thoughts that would be very obvious to her by now about March being a telepath or how Kai died, it did not seem natural. Chapter 1 is short, as all the chapters are, and this was not something I noticed much after that so this was a minor quibble, especially considering there was enough introduction to the new book in this section to keep me interested.
Once I got past the first couple of chapters, it was very difficult to put the book down. It’s very fast-paced and I always ended the chapter wanting to read the next one to find out what happened next. Sirantha’s perspective is told in present tense which just adds to the urgency when she or one of the other characters is in danger.
In spite of a lot of action and adventure, this is not a book that is all about the plot and equal time is dedicated Sirantha herself and her relationships with the other crew members. Sirantha, our mouthy, bald, and scarred heroine, has lost a lot and deals with paranoia from being the center of so many conspiracies. She’s tough and sarcastic on the outside but vulnerable to the core. Reading about interaction between the crew members is as much fun as reading about their adventures. Sirantha and Dina are constantly ragging on each other but are obviously good friends in spite of the way they sound. March and Sirantha have a complicated relationship and Vel’s attempts at learning human customs make him quite endearing.
Although the characters are not particularly deep or complex, they are interesting and very likable. Everyone seems to be fighting the demons from their past and present. March had a difficult time adjusting to his telepathic abilities and has a dark side that comes out at times, and Dina was a member of a royal family until her parents and siblings died. In addition to the humans, there are some interesting alien species and one of the more intriguing characters is the bounty hunter Vel, known as a “Slider” because he can wear human skin and slide into someone else’s life, appearing indistinguishable from the real person he’s imitating.
From start to finish, Wanderlust had me hooked with its submergence of fast-paced action, humor, and enjoyable characters. I read this book in a day, which I almost never do anymore, but I always had to read “just one more chapter.” Highly recommended to anyone looking for a light and diverting story that draws you in easily and keeps you reading.
Read the first chapter online
Reviews of other books in this series: