Not long ago, Jennifer Wells posted on Twitter that she noticed a marked uptick in the sales of her first book entitled Fluency released in 2014, and which I reviewed on this blog. I tweeted back that it was perhaps due in part to my review which is the second highest hit-getter on this blog. I was kidding of course (about my blog increasing sales, not about Jennifer's book being in 2nd place), and realize that Fluency needs no help from me because it is just that good. Almost immediately, Jennifer tweeted back that I needed to read the second book and subject of this review, Remenance. It had taken me completely unawares that there was another book in this series and don’t know how I missed any announcement of its release.
Remanence picks up nearly where Fluency left off with Jane Holloway commanding the Sectillian starship that was accidentally discovered to be hanging around in our solar system for some time. Jane Holloway, along with other crew and her commander were sent by NASA to learn what they could, assuming that the Speroancora was a derelict. What the crew of the Providence (NASA’s name for the capsule sent to investigate the alien craft with a crew of six) was a ship that was abandoned by sentient life with the exception of Ei’Brai, the ship’s Kubodoran Gubernaviti (a squid-like being that takes part in the administration of Sectillian ships including the navigation and other duties of the vessel while being bound by yoke to the ship’s commander), and some very nasty and hostile creatures called the Nepatrox.
After taking several jumps, the Speroancora arrives at Antelle, a habitable moon orbiting the planet Sectilia. Upon arrival, it is discovered that the system has been devastated by the Confluos Gigantus, a predatory insect that eats everything in it’s path and is adapted to space travel to move through the galaxy seeking ecosystems to devour. The people of Atelle have learned to survive, but the once thriving and highly technological species has been thrown back to roughly the stone ages. Then there is also the constant threat of the nepatrox that is trying to eradicate what is left of the population on Atelle as well as the visitors from Earth. When their shuttle is disabled on Atelle, the crew of the Speroancova is stranded and forced to dodge the nepatrox, learn new customs, avoid breaking taboos, and figure out how they are going to get back to their mission.
With all of that going on, there is a threat to Earth itself that has to be dealt with.
Once again, as she did in Fluency, Jennifer has produced a work of Sci-Fi literature that is to be enjoyed by any reader that enjoys well written, detailed, and emotionally charged stories that keep one guessing. At every page turn there is something new and fresh and exciting, but at the same time doesn’t feel rushed or glossed over. The main protagonist of the story, Jane Holloway, is a fantastic strong character in the tradition of Ellen Ripley of the Alien movies, while at the same time being fair and compassionate. Through her telepathic connection with the ships kubodoran navigator, Ei’Brai, Jane feels almost everything that he feels and she has made it her mission to return him to his home. At the same time though, Ei’Brai also has a little tendency to get in the way because he can see and feel everything that Jane sees and feels which strains her relationship with the engineer, Alan Bergan. Alan is brilliant but he also has a temper and is not afraid to let it show, especially when Ei’Brai gets into his thoughts, but even more so when he get into Jane’s thoughts during more intimate moments (which are tastefully written, however I would say that this story would be rated for older teens to adult).
Two scenes in the book stand out as fine examples of Jennifer’s skill as an author. Both the descent to and ascent from Atelle were classic Sci-Fi scenes that included edge-of-your-seat excitement and suspense. Routine operations became unsure for the crew and on one occasion a chapter-ending cliff hanger wouldn't allow me to close the book; I just had to read one more chapter, but this was the case for the entire book. It seemed that no matter how skilled the crew, there was always something that got in the way of an easy success and the members of the crew had to come up with some innovative ways to problem solve in the face of what felt like certain doom.
Looming over everything was the constant and very dangerous threat of the neaptrox that turned up no matter what was happening and at one point, it looked like we would lose at least a couple of characters before they could accomplish their task. The nepatrox are as relentless as the Borg on Star Trek and even more dangerous. I honestly found myself looking over my shoulder wondering when they would turn up again, figuratively speaking, of course.
For most of the story the main antagonists are the environment the crew finds themselves in, but also their own lack of knowledge. A more tangible antagonist comes on the scene a little later that seems to be so angry and vengeful, it will stop at nothing to assure the destruction of all life in the galaxy.
I instant messaged the author and asked if there were plans to another installment of the Confluence series and received the following response...
"Yes, the next book will be titled Valence and will be releasing next Summer!
Further, Jennifer offered...
"I will be releasing another book in October (2016) called The Druid Gene. It is in the same universe as Confluence but with new characters and different challenges."
Some things to look forward to!
Well, there it is...