#TBRChallenge – Tropetastic!: Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell is the second book by this author, a standalone set in the same universe of The Resolution, but in a different star system with different characters. The paperback edition is to be released under Tor Books’ new romantic line, Bramble. The balance of romance/science fiction is more towards the science fiction side than Maxwell’s first book, Winter’s Orbit.

This review includes some general plot spoilers.

Ocean’s Echo features telepaths, one of my favorite science fictional elements. Tennal Halkana, a “reader” telepath, is on the run from family expectations when his aunt the Legislator (who seems equivalent to a prime minister or president of three Orshan planets) conscripts him into the army, where he’s to be forcibly bonded, or “synced” to an architect, a telepathic “writer” who will be able to control Tennal and command him. The architect is Surit Yeni, a junior officer whose powerful telepathic rank has been ignored until he’s unexpectedly asked to volunteer for the sync. Assuming the reader has consented, Surit agrees; he’s found it difficult to advance because his mother, his gen-parent, died while participating in a rebellion against the Orshan army. If Surit is given a promotion via the sync, his alt-parent Elvi will finally receive his gen-parent’s military pension.

Tennal views himself as a chaotic mess who harms anyone he’s close to; Surit is obsessively attentive to detail and used his photographic memory to make sure he’s following the smallest of regulations. Tennal can’t break away from expectations without breaking rules; Surit feels obligated to follow rules because his mother did not. However, Surit does not adhere to regulations without thought; when he learns Tennal did not volunteer, either for the army or for the sync, he realizes he’s been given an illegal order. For plot reasons I won’t spoil here, Tennal and Surit agree to pretend they’ve synced when they haven’t. You could call that two tropes in one: Soul Bonding and Fake Dating! And soon Slow Burn makes an appearance.

Orshan telepathy began with dangerous experiments using alien Remnants. The locating, use, and misuse of Remnants are major elements of the plot, which includes a dangerous expedition, military maneuvering, a coup, a civil war, a sort of trial, and lots of telepathy, because of course Tennal and Surit eventually have to sync for real, after they’ve begun to trust each other. The sync affects them in a lot of interesting ways that add to the story’s tension, up to and including near-death experiences and a sort of transcendence.

For Romance readers, yes there is a happy ending, one that’s a little open-ended and to me leaves the door open for a sequel that could show these characters in the wider world. I’d be there for that.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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