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Book Review

Book Cover

Deep Blue


Author: Jane O'Reilly
Publisher: Piatkus
RRP: £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 349 41663 2
Publication Date: 10 January 2019

Deep Blue (2019. 312 pages) is the second novel in the Second Species Trilogy, written by Jane O’Reilly.

I really have enjoyed this science fiction series, a strange combination of action, space opera and moral ambiguity.

We follow Jinnifer Blue, a space pilot, whose mother is a powerful Earth politician. Earth in this future is a dying world. The ecological decline which started in the twentieth century was exacerbated by attempts to reverse the decline. Mankind’s only hope for a future is to travel to a new world. One has been selected, but it crosses the territory of two alien races, races which are not particularly well disposed to the human species.

Jinn’s mother, Ferona, will do anything to save her race and to that end had created the second species program, a way to augment the poor of the planet with alien DNA. The men are shipped off to fight in alien gladiatorial competitions; the women look forward to a worse fate.

Herein lays the moral quandary of the series. Jinn, who has been augmented herself rails against her mother as if she were a monster, and in many ways she is. Ferona will literally kill anyone who stands in her way. Jinn takes the moral high ground, denouncing her mother and running off with a space pirate, but the reality is that through the two books, Jinn and her friends have caused enormous damage both in property and lives. While it is true that Ferona also has caused sacrifices, at least she is trying to save her species, throwing away thousands to save millions.

At the end of the first book some of Jinn’s companions had already fallen, while others, like her lover Caspian Dax, has been fully augmented and shipped off to fight. This sets the stage to split up the ships compliment. Jinn and Li head off to rescue Dax from the Sittan, while Alistair and Bryant head in the opposite direction to rescue Eve from the Shi Fai.

Bryant is another character who shows that O’Reilly can write nuanced characters. Earth is separated between the poor and the ultra-wealthy, who view the poor as little more than animals. Bryant started the story as a narcissistic and entitled character, but his poisoning and fall from grace has started to change his outlook in life. By the end of the first novel he has rescued boys from slavery, children who he would not have spent a single thought on at the beginning of the trilogy.

The world building continues to get better as we visit different planet. O’Reilly’s naturalistic style of writing and attention to character really draws the reader into the story. Blue Shift was a fair novel, but with this inclusion, O’Reilly has written a much better book. We can only hope that she can bring the trilogy in with a satisfying ending.


Charles Packer

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