Worldbuilding and action that’s both cinematic in scope and exciting as hell
I loved Velocity Weapon, but since a decent part of the entertainment factor of the first book was having my jaw hit the floor with each successive reveal, I did have to wonder whether that format would be used again and whether it could work as well the second time around. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried. What Megan O’Keefe did instead was minimise the tricks and go large on character. It made me realise how important and impactful the cast had actually been and that it had been them just as much as the shocks that so gripped me before. There are definitely still surprises in Chaos Vector, but they supplement the story instead of being the framework upon which it is built. It means that there’s a greater cohesiveness here, a forward momentum and linear connectivity that was somewhat limited by the way the various threads worked in the last book. The different perspectives are cleverly interwoven to build upon each other, every part clearly integral to the story, and the emotional connection is all the more powerful for it.
She grinned, tasted iron, and licked the blood from her teeth. “You know what the last thing I got arrested for was?’ … ‘Spaceship piracy’
The new format allows Sanda to shine. Even more so than before, I mean. Because this time it’s not just about survival… it’s about survival AND a whole shipload more problems, all of them life-threatening or world-ending. If there’s a shit creek in space, she’s up it, paddle nowhere to be seen. Her only way out lies in discovering what’s hidden inside her skull before someone kills her for it. But she can’t do it alone. She needs a crew. And this is where the whole thing comes brilliantly together. The author has a real talent for developing relationships; allowing the reader to feel the growing connections between people, revealing how burgeoning trust leads to friendship, bringing you into the found family she has created and making you feel like one of them. At the heart of it all is Sanda, who has that same kind of skill set, doing for her crew what Megan O’Keefe does for us: giving people a place that feels like home.
Sanda’s all attitude on the surface, but underneath she cares deeply for those around her and she fights, hard and dirty, for what she thinks is right. She’s so far from perfect, she makes mistakes and gets into a ton of trouble, but she’s also smart and ballsy, real on a you-and-me level, and faces problems with an incomparable level of badassery. No wonder she draws people to her - I would fight for her. Chaos Vector has cemented her place in my list of favourite female characters, and just putting it out there, I’ll read however many more books about her the author can possibly write. Of course, she’s only one of the great characters in the book. There’s beautiful diversity everywhere you look, none of it cliche or add-on, and each person has their own thing, their true-to-themselves voice. Her crew might be the best part, but everyone has their role to play. The interaction is punchy with snark as the baseline for communication and some conversations had me laughing out loud. Even in the midst of high energy scenes, all blood and explosions, there’s still time for some humour. For all the grand political machinations, dystopian inequality, and uncountable deaths, the focus on family and friendship gives the book a heartwarming feel even when things get really dark.
Chaos Vector isn’t dull for a single second, with worldbuilding and action that’s both cinematic in scope and exciting as hell - I’d love to see this on screen. With this series, O’Keefe has progressed classic space opera into something bolder, more modern, and truly fun. When I turned the last page, it felt like I hadn’t been given enough time. Especially since the author revealed some seriously big questions that needed answering IMMEDIATELY (ok, ok, I have zero patience, I know) and because she loves a dramatic and abrupt ending to drive her readers crazy. This series is just so damn readable. I blasted through the whole thing and still wanted more, mostly because I didn’t want to leave the characters, these friends, behind. Bring on what comes next ASAP please.
-- Emma Davis, 9.0 / 10
Stars and stars and more stars. While Velocity Weapon kept both Sanda and Biram bound within their respective enviroments for the majority of the book, Chaos Vector features Sanda and Biram unleashed. And they're going to need every advantage they can find to pull at the thread of the greatest evil sweater that humanity has ever faced. That sure is an analogy. Moving on.
This was space dynamite. Fun factor turned up to 10. You like leaders throwing down some kickass speeches when they’re needed most? So. Many. Inspiring. Speeches. How about some jarring bombshells that you will not see coming? Do you like seeing your favorite characters evolve in strange new directions? Buck up, and get those page-turnin’ fingers ready. They’re gonna get a workout.
I had some trepidation that after all the massive reveals and surprise turns that dropped out of nowhere in Velocity Weapon, they would be lacking in Chaos Vector. There weren't many new characters introduced in this sequel, so how many more times can you manipulate the reader into thinking who is playing who, and why? I am pleased to admit how wrong I was. This is my first O'Keefe series and I now have full faith that she knows exactly where she wants the story to go over the course of the series, and has enough creative fuel to shake the reader to their core whenever she feels like it. My core is shook.
Another aspect I really enjoyed was that however massive a space opera this purports to be, it still keeps its focus on just a few POVs, each with a distinct character voice, and has a strong supporting cast with clearly defined goals and well-defined character-building personalities that add depth beyond their motivations. Even though we never see through the eyes of General Anford or Keeper Vladsen or Nox, we can often predict how they'll react to certain challenges, and it goes a long way in fleshing out the world's enrichment and reader's immersion.
There's not much I didn't like about Chaos Vector. Perhaps there's a couple of a too-strong coincidences where two disparate groups were tied together by two completely random events; This is a bit harder to swallow when we're talking about multiple galaxies instead of a high school reunion. "Oh my gosh, she's your cousin? Wow, she's on my office softball team! And your uncle teaches physics? He was my professor in college! How random!!" But, y'know, across milions of light years. Though it serves the purpose of the story, and that's what we're here for.
Even a rogue AI would five-star this puppy. How do I know? .. .BECAUSE I AM-- err, because it's just an incredbily fun, heart-quickening page-turner that will keep you up late, and make you pump your fist at all the cool parts. And there's a lot of 'em. This is as a great time as any for your brain to get the hell off this planet and go visit some galaxies wayyyyy far away, so start this series post-haste.
-- Adam Weller, 9.0 / 10
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