Deep Blue: The Second Species Trilogy book 2 by Jane O’Reilly (book review).

October 30, 2019 | By | Reply More

‘Deep Blue’ by Jane O’Reilly, the second book in ‘The Second Species Trilogy’, is a space opera with a heavy leaning towards romance but not quite as we know it.

Jinnifer Blue, Jinn to her friends, wakes up in the A2 prison ship, strapped to a bed and part way through forced treatment to have Sittan DNA spliced into her own to make her stronger, heal much faster and be more aggressive. Worse, she is prevented from pushing her tellurium blades out of her hands so she can escape.

Josef Li, a man she and her lover, Captain Caspian Dax, and his crew had to leave behind during her previous escape, helps her escape out of the bed and both manage to get a call out to Dax’s ship to come and rescue them. They release other prisoners who are being upgraded who end up triggering the prison’s self-destruct explosion. Jinn and Li make it off A2, just before it blows up and at the cost of losing the Artificial Intelligence crewmember.

Jinn learns from Li Dax was also on A2, but had been shipped out to Sittan to fight in the arena as a full Sittan DNA-spliced Type One. Of course, they have to go to rescue Dax, even if he is far from human.

Jinn’s mother, Ferona, is now Vice-President of a dying Earth. A new planet, Spes, has been located for humans, but they need permission to travel through alien-owned space. She has behind-the-scenes agreed to supply modified humans not only to Sittan, who want the men to fight in the arena, but also to Shi-Fai who want to use the women as incubators for their own kind. In return, she will get their votes at the Intergalactic Senate to allow people to reach Spes. Ferona supplied the modified Dax as a personal favour to the Sittan Empress. The destruction of the A2 prison would have come as a blow, except Ferona has already started up a new and better facility for turning men into Type Ones to keep the Sittan empress happy.

Ferona had been responsible for sending Jinn up to A2 to be modified with Sittan DNA. It was not to be sent with the men to the fight in the arena, but for another reason we are not told in this novel. With A2 gone, she believes Jinn was killed in the explosion but Ferona does not grieve. Instead, she concentrates on making sure the supply of Type Ones, and Type Twos to Shi Fai, carry on uninterrupted. In her way is President Vexler, who wants to be remembered well in the history books and the Humans First movement that wants to stop the alien DNA modification programme.

This all makes for two tense separate very good stories in their own right. Although the Sittan Empress appears on both storylines, the stories do not have any real interactions until the last chapter of the novel, which many people might consider a weakness.

The first novel in this trilogy had the hallmarks of being a Science Fiction space opera. By chapter 12 of ‘Deep Blue’, the trilogy had changed to a space opera fantasy.

One reason was the engineering side of things became unbelievable for me. For example, in chapter eleven, Jinn’s ship has lost engine power just before they go through jump tunnel, so she lands it on and hitches a ride on the very large cargo ship without its crew noticing. That cargo ship would have had to use extra fuel and even with today’s precision sensors the use of that extra fuel would have been noticed. Another reason was the fight scenes on Sittan arena hark back to gladiator fights of Rome, which gives it a flavour of fantasy adventure. There is nothing wrong with space opera fantasy, but the first novel had set expectations for Science Fiction and this is not we got in the second novel.

On the plus side, we see the main characters developing becoming, by the end of the novel, rather more sophisticated and multi-layered. Some of it is expected given their initial roles, but there are a few surprises. This is definitely a story about people, their motivations and their interactions and, if you are into character stories, this is a good read.

Rosie Oliver

October 2019

(pub: Piatkus/Little Brown. 312 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-349-41663-2)

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Category: Books, Scifi

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