Publication date – 31 July 2018
Following on from her 2017 release, Blue Shift, Jane O’Reilly returns to her electrifying science fiction universe for another exciting and action-packed adventure among the stars.
In the distant future of 2207, Earth is dying and humanity’s only hope for survival is a brand new planet on the other side of the galaxy. Travel to this new sanctuary requires passage through the territory of several alien species who are unwilling to let a ragged human fleet anywhere near their areas of space. In order to convince these aliens to allow humans access to a new planet, the government has initiated the Second Species programme to create the only resource the aliens want: human slaves genetically altered with alien DNA.
Former bounty hunter Jinnifer Blue, after failing to reveal the terrible truth about the Second Species programme, has been captured by its creator, her mother, Ferona Blue. Now genetically altered with alien strength and pissed beyond all belief, Jinnifer escapes from the lab where she was held. Having given up on warning humanity about the government’s sinister plans, Jinnifer’s only desire is to be reunited with her lover, the pirate Caspian Dax.
But Dax was also captured by Ferona and is now serving a brutal alien race as a mindless gladiator on the planet of Sittan. Jinnifer has no choice but to travel to Sittan and attempt to rescue Dax, while at the same time organising the rescue of another friend, Eve, who has been captured by another dangerous alien species. Gathering together allies and an old enemy into a ragtag team, Jinnifer initiates two desperate rescue missions to save her friends. Can Jinnifer succeed, or has Dax fallen too far under the sway of the dangerous Sittan empress?
Deep Blue is the second book in the Second Species trilogy and a brilliant sequel to O’Reilly’s first science fiction book, Blue Shift. This is a fun and fast-paced action series that makes use of an inventive and dangerous universe filled with unique aliens and desperate humans. Deep Blue has a very busy plot told from a variety of viewpoints that are combined together in a clever fashion to create one thrilling narrative. Each of the various exciting storylines also contain some flawed and damaged characters, most of whom are seeking some form of redemption.
Just like in Blue Shift, I found that the parts of the book that I enjoyed the most were the chapters that followed the machinations of the book’s central antagonist Ferona Blue. Her despicable political manipulation on Earth was a highlight of the first book, and this continues to be the case in Deep Blue. The added focus on Ferona’s negotiations with alien politicians, including the book’s other main antagonist, the Sittan empress, is a brief but fun addition to this equation. Deep Blue’s other storylines are also very fascinating and contain some great sequences, including having four storylines featuring rescue missions and alien captivity running simultaneously within the book.
Readers who enjoyed the first book of the Second Species trilogy will also enjoy the significant development that the central character, Jinnifer, has undergone since the start of Blue Shift. The character has evolved from an uncaring loner to the leader of her own small crew who harbours deep concerns for her friend’s wellbeing. There is also a shift in the character dynamics between Jinnifer and Dax that is quite noticeable. In the first book, Jinnifer was constantly being rescued by Dax, who ended up sacrificing everything to save her. This is reversed in Deep Blue, as Dax is the one who is trapped and Jinnifer is the one attempting to save him by undertaking a dangerous rescue mission. It is a fun change to the established character dynamic and readers of Blue Shift will appreciate the interesting change of pace O’Reilly takes in this second book.
O’Reilly has also created an excellent original universe to serve as the setting for her series. There are a ton of intriguing science fiction elements, including an interesting prediction for the future of Earth and humanity and a number of unique alien species. In Deep Blue, O’Reilly goes into greater detail of two of her alien races, the Sittan and the Shi Fai. There is some exploration of both races’ history, culture, technology and way of life, as well as a visit to both home planets. While there is a larger focus on the Sittan and their militaristic, female-dominated society, including using the Sittan empress as one of the book’s main antagonists, the scenes on the Shi Fai home planet are certainly memorable and more disturbing. Other science fiction elements that readers are bound to find entertaining within Deep Blue include O’Reilly’s look at intergalactic politics, Earth’s political manipulation with advanced technology and the inclusion of human-alien hybrids.
This is a fairly action-packed book with some great combat sequences infused into the story to excite the readers. The main character spends significant parts of the book utilising the swords she has implanted within her arms to great effect, and O’Reilly ensures that her two main characters spend significant time in gladiator-style death fights. The author also is not too attached to some of her characters, so prepare for a few shocks and surprises.
O’Reilly once again sends the reader on an imaginative science fiction adventure through a dark and dangerous universe. Deep Blue is a deeply fun and action-orientated story that will appeal to a wide audience and have readers hanging out for the final book in this exciting trilogy.