Map of Blue Book Balloon

3 January 2019

Review - Deep Blue by Jane O'Reilly

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Deep Blue (Second Species, 2)
Jane O'Reilly
Piatkus, 10 January 2019
PB, 310pp

I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book.

Deep Blue picks up the story of Jinnifer Blue, space pirate and daughter of Senator Ferona Blue, in a pacy space opera set two centuries hence. Earth is in trouble, after overcorrections for global warming bring on a freeze that is destroying life. To survive, humans must relocate to a distant planet - but this will involve travelling through alien controlled space.

Fortunately, Ferona has a plan to bribe the aliens by trafficking them genetically altered men and women. She's ruthless enough to subject her own daughter to the process, and so we find Jinnifer endowed with superhuman strength - and other talents - fighting back against her mother, seeking to rescue her lover, Caspian Dax, currently fighting for his life in the arena of Sittan.

This is a story with great pace and drive. It reads as though O'Reilly had a lot of fun creating it, and lives and breathes through its characters - burdened as they are with loves and hatreds, guilt, fears and all the baggage of being brought up in the hellish underworlds that exist below every Earth city.

I wouldn't recommend it to diehard fans of hard SF - at least not the picky sort, you shouldn't be reading this if you care about the practicalities of explosions in space, or of actual space travel - but if what you're interested in is a good story driven by plausible characters (and with a nice streak of romance too) all set against a glittery backdrop of stars, phase drives and deeply bizarre aliens, then it may just be for you. You do though need to read the first book - Blue Shift, reviewed here - first and ideally go straight on to this one.

As with the first book, O'Reilly leaves things hanging on a cliffedge, Jinn's swashbuckling and her mother's political scheming evolving in parallel, and that sets things up for an explosive finale to which I'm really looking forward.

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