Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre

Sirantha Jax is feeling the pressure - as a jumper, the urge to dive headlong into grimspace (yet again) is stronger than ever but here she is, traveling to Ithiss-Tor as an ambassador for the Conglomerate. In the wake of the Farwan Corporation's collapse, the Conglomerate is still struggling to keep citizens safe in the face of the mafia-esque Syndicate subtly flexing their muscles and the Morgut's increasingly frequent fatal attacks. Jax isn't necessarily ambassador material, but since she's probably the only human ever to become friends with an Ithorian-turned-bounty hunter, Vel, she's the best mankind has to offer. And how scary is that? As ambassador, she is charged with creating an alliance with the Ithorians 'bugs' since they are essentially the only civilization ever to have defeated the Morgut. The Ithorians however, distrust and loath humans: seeing them as inferior, weak beings. They even think Vel somewhat defective for leaving their planet to live among humans. Lucky for Jax however, he's got her back and is there to help her navigate the political doublespeak and intricate Ithorian customs.

Not only is Jax having to tread lightly with the Ithorians - she's the kind to shoot first, blow up the planet, salt it, and then, ask questions later - she has to figure out a way to help her lover March come out of his permanent 'kill' mode. The least touch or perceived threat (real or imagined) results in him literally going berserk on anyone and everyone. Worst of all, even though he remembers loving Jax, he can't figure out why he ever did and can see no future whatsoever with the feisty jumper. But Jax isn't giving up on him and will try to do everything in her power to bring the old, uber-conscientious March back.


I'm still reeling over this series - Grimspace and Wanderlust have to be two of my best discoveries from the past year and Doubleblind did not disappoint. I'm the first to admit that there's plenty going on in these books but Ann Aguirre has this masterful ability of being able to connect multiple cultures and characters flawlessly that you have to just simply sit back and trust her to take you where you need to go. I cannot say how much I love Jax. And March. And Vel. Who wouldn't love somebody with a pack as bottomless as Mary Poppins' carpet bag, that is, if Mary Poppins carried shock guns, all weather jackets, transmission scramblers, and sundry computer hacking materials. Handy to have when you're on an alien planet full of bugs wanting to kill you.

Doubleblind distinctly departs from the non-stop action formula present in the previous two Jax books with spectacular results. Essentially a character-driven novel, we are truly able to see how much Jax has grown over time. Nothing is so satisfying as that. Two books ago there is no way she would have been able to complete a mission as ambassador, let alone one as delicate in nature as this one. Jax herself understands the irony of her situation and let's just say, she's feeling the strain.
I know; it's crazy for me to be the voice of reason, the prudent one, but that's the hat I'm wearing right now, and let me tell you, it's tight across the brim.
After facing some rough make-or-break situations, Jax has learned the value of patience, listening to those around her, and not always going off half-cocked. Fun that, but not always effective. Much of this change has to be the direct result of her time spent primarily with March and secondly with Vel. Vel has that alien viewpoint which has caused Jax to look at the effect of her choices in a new light - she's still paranoid and a smart-mouth, but she's learned how to control it in her favor. Furthermore, March used to be the one who had to wait patiently for Jax and now she is the one making sure March knows she'll never give up on him - a monstrous task since we always knew the man was crazy but now, he's downright off his rocker. In Doubleblind, Jax proves she is more than capable of subtly as well as a respectable right hook and I'm just not sure I can wait until next year for her next adventures in the upcoming Killbox (promising title, don't you think?).

series reading order:
~ Grimspace
~ Wanderlust
~ Doubleblind
~ Killbox (October 2010)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Pushers Anonymous review
Fantasy Cafe review
Impressions...of a Reader review
Janicu review
The Thrillionth Page review
Kmont and Katiebabs discuss it Part I & Part II

book source: my local library

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