I haven’t been reading much science fiction lately, so Chaos Station by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen was a welcome change of reading material. The first book in the Chaos Station series, Chaos Station, was so interesting that I’m still having trouble breaking down the reasons why I enjoyed it. The answer: it was ALL fantastic. There is a retired super-soldier, Zander/Zed/Loop, and a former soldier/engineer, Felix/Fix/Flick, that get a second chance at love. The men started off as best friends, briefly became lovers before going off to war, and…at one point, each thought the other was dead. The emotional connection between Zed and Flick is intense and confused with the baggage of war and living separate lives. Neither man believes that their love stands a chance, but both are willing to take advantage of their close quarters. Love, intrigue, genetic manipulation, and tough decisions made in an effort to protect loved ones moved Chaos Station to my list of favorite reads this year.
The war with the alien stin is over, but Felix Ingesson has given up on seeing his lover, Zander Anatolius, ever again. Zander’s military file is sealed tighter than an airlock. A former prisoner of war, Felix is attempting a much quieter life keeping his ship, the Chaos, aloft. He almost succeeds, until Zander walks on board and insists that Felix isn’t real.
A retired, broken super soldier, Zander is reeling from the aftereffects of his experimental training and wants nothing more than to disappear and wait for insanity to claim him. Then he sees footage of a friend and ally—a super soldier like him—murdering an entire security squad with her bare hands and a cold, dead look in her eyes. He never expected to find Felix, the man he’d thought dead for years, on the ship he hired to track her down.
Working with Felix to rescue his teammate is a dream come true…and a nightmare. Zander has no exit strategy that will leave Felix unscathed or his own heart unbroken.
Both Zander/Zed and Felix/Flick are wounded soldiers. One of them, Flick, has more obvious injuries from the war, but Zed did not escape unscathed. These two men clearly love one another. That much is evident. They are also determined to protect one another (and themselves) from another heartbreak. When Zed and Flick finally decide to make the most of their time together, I was so happy for them. There wouldn’t be more story if they immediately reconciled and got their HEA. Instead, both Zed and Flick have secrets. Zed’s secret involves the reason that he hired Flick’s ship and crew to help him track down a former teammate (coincidentally, she’s also an old friend of Flick). Flick managed to hold on to his secrets and I can only hope that his nondisclosure will come into play in the next book.
As far as the plot is concerned, I love the futuristic military/super-soldier angle. Zed hires space pirates to help him find an old friend and teammate that is in imminent danger. It’s clear that something isn’t quite right with Zed, and it goes beyond experience as a traditional soldier or even covert ops. Whatever happened with Zed is a military secret, involves the war and media footage of Zed and his team of super-soldiers rescuing civilians from an impossible situation. Soon thereafter, the war ended and Zed’s team was “retired.” In Chaos Station, humanity recently survived a war with an alien species (the stin) only due to the intervention of the mysterious and all-powerful Guardians (another alien species). Hopefully, the Guardians will get more page time in the next book, as they appear to be wonderfully fear inducing. There are space pirates, crime syndicates, uber-wealthy businessmen…oh, my! The world-building creates endless possibilities with ships and space stations and aliens.
Chaos Station is a fascinating journey into war-ravaged outer space where humanity is picking up the pieces and adapting. Zed and Flick are both facing new lives after war tore apart their old ones, only they get to do it together with backup (the crew of Chaos). I sincerely hope that Zed and Flick are able to forge a new, stronger bond and move forward as a couple. It’s nice to think that love is enough, but sometimes life gets in the way of happiness. I’ll keep reading and rooting for them to create their own happiness. Also, I hope the crew members and Zed’s brothers not only survive but thrive right along with Zed and Flick. A roller-coaster of emotion, action, and space-age technical difficulties, Chaos Station is the beginning of what I expect to be an amazing new science fiction series.