Joint Review – Aftermath by Ann Aguirre

Aftermath Cover

Publisher: Ace
Release Date: Out Now
How did we get it: From the Publisher


Sirantha Jax has the right genes—ones that enable her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. But it’s also in her genetic makeup to go it alone. It’s a character trait that has gotten her into—and out of—hot water time and time again, but now she’s caused one of the most horrific events in military history…

During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, Sirantha went AWOL and shifted grimspace beacons to keep the enemy from invading humanity’s homeworld. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel—and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers.

Accused of dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, and high treason, Sirantha is on trial for her life. And only time will tell if she’s one of the Conglomerate’s greatest heroes—or most infamous criminals…
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

I think the title is perfect for this book given the ending of the last one. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it certainly wasn’t this. What happens when the war is over and people have to recover? What happens when those who haven’t been fighting get a chance to analyze what the fighters did and decide that they don’t agree with what was done? This is an injustice that resonates with society today. AFTERMATH is also about the people who are involved in the war themselves and how they have changed over the course of time; so what happens to their relationships with others?

Yes! I loved it too and the title was definitely apt. This was the aftermath of the physical, the mental, and most definitely the emotional elements of the past 4 books and I totally agree it adds so much depth to this series. It’s so bittersweet and heartwrenching.

What I also found heartwrenching is how Jax really wanted to go back and make amends for everything she did in the name of war. Not necessarily back in time since that isn’t possible but back to certain locations or people and fix how things turned out. Most characters either can’t or are unwilling to try to repair what they have broken unless it involves a romantic or sexual interest.

From the outset of this book, it was a roller-coaster of an emotional journey for Jax and her family (I don’t think it is her friends/lover anymore because they have become her family over the course of the series.) And it is the same for the reader — I felt that I was emotionally wrung out and I am glad we got to see this thoughtful and retrospective look about the aftermath of war and its consequences.

It was also FANTASTIC character development for Jax because she started out as the selfish party-girl who only lived for herself and seeing what she did even though it cost her so much especially those closest to her was amazing.

Yes, at some points I had to stop, put the book down and walk away because it hit far too close to home with my day job profession and thinking about what is going to happen to an entire generation as the US reduces it’s presence in the Middle East.

I also agree on the character development. Jax really wasn’t my favorite person when this series started in GRIMSPACE but the person she has become just amazing. I think this is a perfect example of how characters need to grow throughout a series.

I felt emotionally wrung out but I can definitely understand how hard this could be to someone who went through a similar situation and I give major Kudos to Ann for writing realistically about this. I also felt that the relationship between Vel and Jax was another highlight for me. I ADORED their scenes together and in a lot of ways it felt like this was an unconventional love story but not in a romantic or sexual sense. Vel also came a long way throughout the series and I loved his character’s journey just as much as Jax’s and in this book, if I didn’t love him before, I adore him now.

Talking about character development take a look at Vel. From the alien bounty hunter that we first met in GRIMSPACE to the Vel at the end of AFTERMATH. I never thought I would grow to love such an alien character. He manages to always be there for Jax regardless of the situation. When they talk about a spiritual/emotional love I think of Jax and Vel.

Oh yes! Vel really gets Jax and understands her – there is a scene in the book that captures this perfectly which was also very powerful, especially about the aftermath of the war but I think this scene sums it up beautifully what the theme of the book is about.

““Sirantha,” he says gently, “you may work yourself to
death, and it will not bring those soldiers back. You try to
atone, but you do not mourn. You must cede their loss and
give them over to the Iglogth.”
He’s wise— and he’s right.
“I don’t know if I can,” I whisper. “I’ve seen some tough
times, but this is the worst because I can’t get their families
out of my head. I must be such a monster in their eyes.”
In a lightning gesture, he lashes out with a claw, drawing
a shallow X over my heart. The blood wells through my
sliced shirt, and for a moment I am too shocked to move. I
can’t believe Vel hurt me. I would’ve sworn he never, ever
would. I guess this means he hates me, too. The agony
sears way more than it should for the size of the wound,
burning from the betrayal, and tears spring up in my eyes.
When I see my pain reflected in his side- set eyes, I
know why he did. So I can cry. Even though it hurt him,
too, he gave me the wound that permits me to let go. It’s a
selfless thing, because I can see by the twitch of his mandible
that it injured him, too. He has a friend’s blood on his
bare claws, a horrendous thing— and lovely, too.
My sobs, when they tear free, wrack me from head to
toe. He draws me to him, all smooth chitin, cool and hard
to the touch. There should be no solace in it, but there is
because he’s Vel, and he took my pain for his own.”

For me this illustrates how much they have grown from wary adversaries from the first book, to survivors who have experienced huge loss but also huge growth. Jax and March have an epic love story but I also think Vel and Jax share an unconditional love which has beautifully evolved.

That scene almost had me in tears. To be able to understand that sometimes it requires more then just words to get someone to actually grieve.

So what did you think about the ‘telegrams’ wireless messages really between Suni Tarn and Edun Levitar? The way they have shifted over the series from straight tentative business to potentially more *wags eyebrows*

I really liked them and it was a clever way to show an overall picture about the war and adds political intrigue and I loved the human element of them evolving from neutral exchanges to friendship. I also got that feeling that something more was in the offering between them. I really hope we get to see them meet in the future. Especially Edun Leviter who is such a shadowy but integral character in the last few books.

You have probably noticed that we didn’t talk about March during most of our discussion. He is certainly around and plays a significant role but talking about it would be a major spoiler so we will just leave it as it continues their relationship theme as heartwrenching and bittersweet all at once.

I really think that was the main theme of the book, bitter-sweetness, there is a line that portrays Jax and March’s romance where she writes “What you said about the sweetest pain? That fits us. I guess you already knew this, but I’ve never been in love before.” – I think this portrays what they are going through over the course of the series.

Ms Aguirre has created another masterpiece here. She continually finds ways to keep the tension and value of what is at stake high for her readers. She doesn’t leave characters or scenes dangling without bringing them back into the overall plot thread. Jax is such an unpredictable character that I am never sure what she is going to do next. Having finished this one I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment,well once my heartbeat slows down again *grin*.
I give AFTERMATH an A.

This was a wonderfully written and emotionally wrenching penultimate installment in an epic series. I am so glad we got to see the plot threads that were introduced in the previous book tied up or reintroduced back to the main plot. I have no idea what will happen next but it does feel, and I agree, that something big is on the horizon but it will definitely be unexpected. This is such a multi-layered series with real characters that go through real consequences and emotions, and Aftermath presented another aspect and layer in the Grimspace series. I will be sad to see the end of this series with the last book, Endgame, but I eagerly await its conclusion.




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