Author: Jess Anastasi
Series: Atrophy #3
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Available: 2nd Jan
After his unusual reaction to a weapon, Commando Varean Donnelly is accused of being a shape-shifting alien and imprisoned onboard the Imojenna. Sure, he has abilities he keeps hidden from everyone—including the gorgeous doc examining him—because the government makes sure people as different as him disappear. For good.
Imojenna doctor Kira Sasaki knows there’s something different about the handsome commando the captain’s thrown in their brig. She doesn’t think he’s Reidar, although he might have been a victim of their cruel experiments. But when Kira learns the stubborn commando’s racial make-up, she finds herself torn between defending him to Captain Rian Sherron and his crew or urging Varean to escape while he still can.
Source: ARC from Entangled: Select Otherworld via NetGalley
I’m slightly conflicted about this book, because it made me come close to hating every crew member on the Imojenna, except for Kira. Rian gets a pass too because he’s too messed up and distracted with his own issues to be blamed for most of what happens to Varean. And a lot happens to Varean in this book, very little of it good. But in a way this is also a good thing, because I found Varean compelling enough to care about what happened to him.
Varean showed up at the end of the last book, Quantum, as a strange anomaly that the main characters of that story mostly forgot about. Sadly for Varean, he wasn’t forgotten by Rian and his pirate cousin, which is how he ends up on the Imojenna, under the most dubious of circumstances. Because no one can quite work out whether he’s alien or human, or why the alien stunner seems to affect him so badly. This leads to a lot of callous behaviour on behalf of the crew, except for Doctor Kira who at least has some compassion left.
I liked both Kira and Varean. The universe might be going to hell in a handbasket around them, but they still have a measure of goodness, compassion and an ability to care for each other. Not to mention protectiveness. I love how Kira tries to protect Varean, even before she knows the truth about him. I was a little surprised at how long it takes her to think of blood sampling, though, and later on in the book some of her reasoning gets a little annoying – and a bit too similar to how the romantic angst in the last book played out.
Varean is a man whose universe has collapsed, but even in the midst of all that mess, he’s still good enough to care about what happens to Kira. He even cares about the others, despite the abuse he gets from Callan, the nasty way Lianna treats him and the selfish usage of the rest of the crew. His attraction to Kira is a bit too instant and they never really have a chance to explore and deepen it throughout the book, but I still liked him. Some revelations about him did feel rather convenient and his capacity for forgiveness is astonishing, but I still wanted to know what would happen to him from one scene to the next.
Elsewhere, Ella really got on my nerves. She’s always annoyed me to a certain extent, but this time around I had no time for her at all. Also, why didn’t Kira ever ask her to look at Varean? That made no sense to me. Zahli continues to be useless, just hanging around, not being very helpful. We have a few further revelations about how bad and dark Rian is, but likewise there are hints of redemption too and a few twists which left me more curious about him than ever.
So overall this was a mostly enjoyable read. There is plenty of action, which comes thick and fast as the book progresses. We get a few new hints about the war with the aliens, plus a few more clues about the universe they’re all flying around, which definitely keep things interesting. More depth to the romance might have been nice, though, even though I found it a little more engaging than in the last book. As for the behaviour of the crew, Lianna in particular has left me a little reluctant to read more, especially as I suspect she and a certain pirate captain might be up next. I like the overall plot, but the characters are slowly driving me away from this series. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see whether or not I’ll read on.
Diffraction is out January 2nd.
Visit Jess Anastasi for more details.