JOINT REVIEW: Inversion Point by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke
Zander and Felix’s relationship has been to the brink and back: the Human-Stin War, imprisonment and an actual death/resurrection. Zander’s death, to be specific, and the experience has left him…changed. The mysterious race known as the Guardians chose to revive him and appointed him as their emissary. A high honor, but he could do without the group of would-be cultists following him around the galaxy.
When a recently discovered species destroys a stin probe, Zander’s new role soon commands all of his time and focus. The human ambassador—Felix’s ex-lover, much to Zander’s annoyance—pulls them into strategy talks aimed at preserving galactic peace. Soon everyone is relying on Zander’s Guardian tech to telepathically communicate with the strange aliens.
Only Felix seems concerned with the strain piling up on Zander, but he has his own resolve tested when the very stin that imprisoned him show up to a summit. Zander and Felix will both have to find a way to face their doubts and preserve their love—while preventing another galaxy-wide war.
Dear Kelly Jensen & Jenn Burke,
Sirius: Six months passed since the events of the last book. We meet Zed, Felix and the rest of the crew taking small jobs of all kinds, some from Zed’s home space in order to let him visit his family more often, some from elsewhere. The job they are working in the beginning of this book is to find and apprehend sixteen-year-old girl who ran away from home and decided to join a church/cult to show her parents. Coincidentally this church is the one whose members like to stalk, I am sorry worship Zed wherever he goes. Too bad he does not enjoy being the object of their worshipping (they call him Redeemer).
Won’t you be happy when somebody calls you that and tries to follow you across the Galaxy? They find the girl and get her home safe; however Guardians let Zed know that it is time for him to go elsewhere – apparently the species which we learn join the Galaxy at the end of the previous book are trying to communicate with everybody else and without success. Guardians think that Zed would be able to understand their messages and I guess translate it to everybody else. So off they all go to the meeting place. Zed as official emissary of the Guardians and crew of “Chaos” is with him.
And the action starts moving pretty much from the very beginning and never lets go – new species may be peaceful beings, but that does not mean that they are meek and timid, no, they are pretty capable of doing quite a lot of damage if threatened and considering how hard (impossible till Zed arrives) it is for anybody to understand what they are saying, it is clear that peace is very fragile right now. Especially since they accidentally destroyed a stin probe and it does not take much for the stin to explode and start a war – now these species *are* incredibly aggressive as part of their nature and as we can see in this book they like to poke humans and everybody around them even if they may not start the war right away. The welcoming talks with Species Four (that’s what they are called till Zed actually ends up giving them a new name or deciphering the name they call themselves) turn out to be interesting should we say and ready to explode at any time. And they almost do.
Kaetrin: Oh, I enjoyed Species Four. They were very different to anything I’ve come across in science fiction before (not that I’m an aficionado or anything). They’re also super-happy to be meeting other beings and when they can finally communicate with Zed they are a little over-enthusiastic. I loved that about them. They show a kind-of childlike wonder and joy but they are also clearly not children. I loved the name they gave to Felix!
Sirius: I was very happy and satisfied with action/adventure part of the book. If you remember when Kaetrin and myself reviewed the previous book, both of us did not find Zed and Felix’s internal conflicts to be very convincing shall we say. So yes, I was nervous about starting this book, especially since the blurb hinted at Zed being jealous of Felix’s ex in this book – basically I was worried that now it would be Zed’s turn to be stupid. Well, he was jealous yes, but I could tolerate it better than I thought I would be, much better actually. I think this was due to two reasons.
First, yes at times Zed was a bit jealous, but his thoughts did not transform into action, all the matter of degree, but I could kind of see how Zed would see somebody who looks similar to him and who lives much quieter life (or Zed thinks he does) and thinks that Felix may want to go back to him. No, it was not completely rational, but he did not decide to leave Felix based on that, he was just feeling insecure from time to time and eventually he got over it. Although I could have done without “we must talk about it, no I cannot do it” – I think this only happened twice, but it was a little annoying because of course they could talk about it and clear the air only at the end. I do get that they were both extremely busy and stressed and injured (again), but they did not break up, they slept together and they did spend at least some time together, so I just don’t see that spending five minutes – “oh don’t be stupid, because being jealous of Theo is stupid” talk was so very much out of the question. But as I said, I dealt with it better than I thought I would.
Second reason why was because the personal insecurities were just better integrated in the action/adventure than in the last book. What we had in the last book was Felix being insecure to the point of stupidity in my opinion and this was used to set up the main action story of the book, they needed to be separated, etc. In this book action is happening simultaneously to whatever Zed is feeling towards Theo. When Zed is so busy with important stuff it is also easier to cut him some slack because he is clearly very tired and very stressed and he also gets a chance to see that Theo is a very nice guy and not a threat to him at all.
Kaetrin: Yes, I thought the action and romance were much better integrated as well. The characters were acting consistently and the issues between Zed and Felix were realistic in the circumstances without being overdone. This is Zed’s first experience of jealousy and it was sort of cute actually. He took time to warm to Theo but the action served to demonstrate that Felix’s faith in his ex was not misplaced.
“I think he’s jealous of Theo.”
One of Elias’s brows quirked. “Well, that’s ridiculous. Who would be jealous of a guy who looks just like him and has a weird habit of touching you? All over, all the time.”
I was half expecting some more angst for Felix with the stin – and the stin certainly tried to make this happen. But I liked where it ended up going. I saw this book as being one where Felix reclaimed parts of himself (in more ways than one).
There is something else I’d like to talk about regarding disability and how it was handled in the book but it’s a little spoilery so I’ll put it under a spoiler tag.
Kaetrin: That said, I felt this story was much more cohesive and consistent and I enjoyed the developments with Elias and Nessa as well. There were some lovely word pictures throughout the novel and I appreciated that even the more magical fixes were nonetheless hard won.
Sirius: I liked this one quite a bit and looking forward to the conclusion of the series.
Kaetrin: Yes, I’m going with a B as well and I have renewed interest in the final installment, Phase Shift which is out in May.
Kaetrin & Sirius