“Book Review: Sun Wolf”
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
A spectacular sequel with heightened stakes and a promise of big things to come
It’s been ten months since Aiden Macallen was promoted to commander of Sun Wolf, the Science and Survey Division’s state of the art flagship. But during that time, the portals for humans to traverse space, the voidoids, have become unstable. They swallow up the ships that are attempting to travel through them.
The United Earth Domain suspect that these fluctuations could be deliberate. And if they aren’t stopped soon, traveling through the voidoids might become impossible.
It’s up to Aiden and his new crew to find the people responsible for the fluctuations and work out how to reverse the damage done to the voidoids. It’s no easy task, especially when he’s saddled with a judgmental colonel with a visible contempt for him, and when a hidden enemy seems to be stalking their every move. Worse still, Elgin Woo—the one person who might have understood what was happening to the voidoids—has vanished, and his successor suspects that if the voidoids blink out, so might the entire galaxy.
The second book in the Space Unbound series, Sun Wolf starts ten months after the events of Through a Forest of Stars. While David C. Jeffrey does a good job of catching readers up to the previous book’s events, I wouldn’t recommend starting this one out of order. The rehash of past events serves more to jog a reader’s memory than to introduce newcomers, and much of the wonderful nuance would be lost in the process. And plus— book one is good, then book two is better, so starting from the beginning is worth it.
Many of the elements that made Through a Forest of Stars so enjoyable are also present in Sun Wolf. The space exploration aspect is just as wide and exciting. But it also goes above and beyond. This second book introduces us to a fascinating new planet with all new flora. Elements that were only touched upon in Forest of Stars expand too, particularly in our discovery of more about the voidoids. Space is such a giant and strange ecosystem in these novels, organic in much the way our own world operates. It feels full, authentic, and possible.
Second books can often be the weakest link in a series—not as fresh and exciting as the first or as explosive as the third. Jeffrey has outdone himself with Sun Wolf, though. He builds on the science that was hinted at in Through a Forest of Stars. While the voidoids feel almost like a plot device in the first novel, in Sun Wolf they steal the show. The cast of characters expands, bringing with them an energy that propels the plot forward. The stakes are higher than book one, and they feel more urgent too. On pretty much every level, Sun Wolf ups the ante. More dynamic, more thrilling, more complex, it has it all.
At times, the story leans a bit heavily on stereotypes. The cast is larger, so there’s less space to flesh them all out. It relies on a shorthand to anchor us to their different personalities. Unfortunately, this ends up making some characters into the exotic other and over-gendering others. Toward the end, this evens out and the characters become a bit more well-rounded, but it takes some time.
Sun Wolf is a thoroughly enjoyable sequel in a so-far exceptional sci-fi series. It explores an intricate and complicated world without ever making it feel like work for the reader. And if the conclusion is anything to go by, it’s only going to get bigger and better from here.
Genre: Science Fiction
Print Length: 401 pages
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