Shortlatte's Reviews > Aftermath

Aftermath by Ann Aguirre
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Oct 02, 2011

it was amazing

The Sirantha Jax series is one in which each book exceeds the last, no matter how impossibly high the bar seemed set by a predecessor. Ann Aguirre accomplishes so much with each story, a feat made more impressive considering that she doesn't indulge in extraneous prose or gratuitous cliffhangers. That's not to say that readers are left content at the end of each book. Far from it, as upon turning the last page Aguirre usually succeeds in tearing your heart out, but it's a sweet ache you're left with and an actual need to see how Jax fares in the next. Considering that Aftermath is the penultimate book in the series, the heartache is even more acute than usual, as Jax seems to have sacrificed nearly to her breaking point.

Were she the same Jax that first appeared in Grimspace, this might not be such a disconcerting notion. Yet Jax has matured so much throughout the past five novels, honing her good qualities and carving out the bad through perseverance and necessity. More so than the four preceding books, Aftermath explores the person Jax has become, as the decisions she has made are brought home with dire consequences. It is so painful to see the characters I have come to care for being forced into disparate paths. After all this time and so many impossible situations, it seemed incomprehensible that Jax would accept parting ways with her companions, yet fate finally takes that choice out of her hands.

Honestly, I have never really understood the dynamic between Jax and March. Their love is too unhealthy, consumes too much of each of them without giving back nearly enough. They choose their own causes over each other time and again, yet they do not turn their backs on the other. I don't see how they can ever really be happy living in such a cycle, always straining for something different from the other while never being able to let each other go. That being said, I enjoyed the development of their relationship in this installment more than I have previously, as it felt more real and honest. They might be as far from each other as ever before, yet I feel they have arrived closer to understanding each other than they have before achieved.

As perplexing as I find Jax's relationship with March, I am in awe of her relationship with Vel. This Ithtorian has been my favorite character from the first, and my loyalty to him has only grown alongside Jax's. The progression their relationship takes through this series is beautiful to behold, especially so in this installment. It reduced me to tears no less than three times, not the least because even they cannot hope to put a label on what they have. They are lovers, divorced from the need for sex and romance. They are partners and best friends, and they understand each other as no one else does. And in stark contrast to her relationship with March, I sense that Jax is healthy and complete when she is with Vel, notwithstanding the fact that they are different species. If I had my druthers, Jax and Vel will survive the events of the final book together, in whatever incarnation their relationship may take, as long as they are not apart.

I fully anticipate having my heart ripped out repeatedly while reading the final book in this series, and I can't wait to have the pleasure.
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