Oh these poor, poor characters (or maybe poor, poor Felix is more accurate). Every time it seems like things are getting better and they’re gonna get a break from all the problems, things just spiral down again. It gave me this really weird mixture of feeling awful for them and feeling happy because that’s exactly the kind of thing I like to read.
Anyway… the reasons I loved this book. For one thing, just like all the others, it had a great plot but also lovable and realistic characters with imperfect but still sweet friendships and romantic relationships.
I also loved the mental health aspect that’s been in all the books. Felix was a POW for years, but that was never used as just some tragic backstory; it truly affected him and was part of his character. Even when he and Zander would have sex, anytime Zander would pin him down or get on top of him or push him against a wall, Felix would have a moment of panic and feel trapped and have to remind himself that he wasn’t back in the work camp, he was safe in the arms of his lover (and Zander would always ask Felix if what he was doing was ok because he understood). Felix also had flashbacks and nightmares and other emotional struggles. And for a while he wasn’t handling things well, but in this book he was finally seeing a therapist and doing a lot better because of it. Even Zander was seeing a therapist because he too had a lot to deal with emotionally from his time in the war and everything that had happened to him. So it seemed like mental health was handled realistically and well.
But, despite finally seeking out help, Zander and Felix still weren’t perfect (because no one is) and had inner demons and stress to deal with, which made their relationship still a bit rocky (but ultimately loving).
Also, you know a book is good when you get through an intense scene and realize you’ve been literally clutching your shirt in horror and concern and have to stop and stretch your hand out for a moment before continuing.
Another thing (I know, lots of gushing, but there’s a reason I gave this book such a great rating), it just hit me at some point while I was reading, these authors have created an entire universe. The sheer amount of detail about the aliens and societies and planets and militaries, the backstories, the events in the war, the characters’ memories and things that have happened in their lives… It was like, up until that point I just felt like I was reading something real and then suddenly remembered it was all created in someone’s imagination, and it just kind tripped me out. That’s how intricate and vivid it was.
My only complaint is how disability was used in this book. *SPOILER* One of the characters lost an arm, but then it was replaced with alien technology that gave him some extra abilities, in addition to curing the original disability he had (a bad hand). *END SPOILER* It was disappointing to me because, up until then, one of the things I loved about the series was how realistic the physical disability inclusion was.
Overall though, that one thing aside, this book was amazing and sucked me into the story even more than the previous ones!
Fans of Books 1-3 in Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen's Chaos Station Series. Anyone who likes M/M romance, angsty/struggle-filled relationships, books set in space, realistically flawed characters, and imperfect but sweet relationships among lovers, friends, and family.