Blue Diablo

 
Doubleblind
by Ann Aguirre 
(Ace, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 9780441017812 
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Doubleblind is the third book in Ann Aguirre’s Science Fiction Grimspace series. In the first two books, Grimspace and Wanderlust, readers are introduced to an amazing heroine in Sirantha Jax. Sirantha mainly goes by her last name, Jax, to her friends and acquaintances. Jax’s skill is jumping through space and time, in what is called Grimspace. Jumping to her is like a drug and it is slowly killing her. She needs to give it up because she could possibly end up dead after one more jump. Jax has been through a great deal: being framed for murder, trying to get over the death of her lover Kai, and then moving on and joining a rag-tag crew who is against the Conglomerate, a group that rules over the universe. Through an interesting set of circumstances, Jax has been chosen as an ambassador for the Conglomerate after all the charges against her have been dropped.

Jax has no choice but to travel to the planet of Ithiss-Tor, where the creatures who reside there are bug-like aliens. They can’t stand humans and want nothing to do with the Conglomerate or with Jax. The Conglomerate needs Ithiss-Tor to join them in the fight against the rebels who want to bring them down. If the Ithtorians don’t accept what the Conglomerate is offering, there could be another war on the horizon.

Jax is very much out of her element even with Vel, an Ithtorian who is her translator. She and Vel have a very special friendship even though he was originally sent to kill her. Then there is March, Jax’s lover, who has become mentally unstable. March has a deep dark past where he has killed many. He has shut down all his feelings and is in killer mode. Jax doesn’t know how to reach this man who saved her from her own demons. He now suffers and may just end up destroying himself and everything he and Jax have worked so hard for.

As Jax tries diplomacy with the Ithtorians; she is being watched closely. Someone wants her to fail. The question is: who? Even with Vel and March by her side, she may not succeed, because when one of the most respected Ithtorians is poisoned, Jax is blamed. Someone she trusts may be the one responsible. It’s up to Jax to find this possible murderer and still succeed at her mission. If she doesn’t, the universe as she knows it will never be the same.

I have been a fan of Ms. Aguirre’s Grimspace series since the first book and I can say that Doubleblind delivers in every way. This is not only an action-packed sci-fi tale, but it also has a suspenseful mystery in regards to who is trying to sabotage Jax’s mission for peace. Everyone is a suspect and when I figured out who was the villain, I was shocked. My jaw dropped open in disbelief.

The planet of Ithiss-Tor is a creatively-drawn place where huge bug-like creatures are the superior race. They frown upon humans, and it’s very telling because in between the lines many issues are brought up such as bigotry and injustice against races. The way Jax handles herself is much like I would. She is scared, confused and so unsure. This former party girl who lived on the edge now must act like a responsible adult. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders and knows it. Failure is not an option.

One of the best things about Doubleblind is the relationship between Jax and Vel. These two are so very different, for obvious reasons, because Jax is human and Vel is an alien bug. But through their dialogue and actions concerning one another, I could see the great depth of love and devotion these two have. Vel is a wonderfully written character who really shines here. He even takes the focus away from March. In Grimspace and Wanderlust, it was all about March and Jax working together as a team. In Doubleblind, March has been written in such a way where he is more of a secondary character because of his lack of appearances through the book. Because he is so cold and mercenary, the bond Jax and he have is almost nonexistent for the majority of the story. I felt so bad for Jax because she loves March so much. Waiting to see if these two would rekindle their love did have me on the edge of my seat.

Ann Aguirre is well known for her great world building and unique characters. She has done that again with Doubleblind and one book that science fiction fans, especially those who enjoy sci-fi with romantic elements, will not want to miss. 

--Catherine Anne


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