Burndive by Karin Lowachee. ★★★★
Burndive is the sequel to Warchild. Although the two books have different protagonists, Burndive starts almost immediately after the events of the first book and continues the plot arc of the human versus alien conflict. I would recommend reading them in order, especially since I thought Warchild was the better of the two.
Ryan Azarcon is the son of Captain Cairo Azarcon and Songlian Lau, a famous public relations spokeswoman. Ryan has met his father only four times in his life, which has been spent under the scrutiny of the media. Prior to the start of Burndive, Ryan’s on earth when he sees an embassy in Hong Kong get bombed. He’s desperately trying to escape his memories of the attack when the news of his father’s attempts at a peace treaty erupt and Ryan suddenly becomes a target.
Ryan is an incredibly privileged, spoiled rich kid. It’s amazing that I didn’t hate him, and the fact that I actually grew attached to him speaks to the wonders of Lowachee’s characterization. Ryan’s problems are no where near as huge as Jos’s, but they’re still understandable. He feels lonely and isloated, and there’s a sense that he feels abandoned by his parents. In particular, the book spends a lot of time on his relationship with his father, who he grows to know over the course of the book.
The plot continues from where Warchild left off in the human and alien war, but it takes a back seat. This book is extremely character focused, and there’s not a whole lot of action. This series has also been very male focused, with few major female characters. Songlian Lau is the most important female character, and I think she got the short end of the stick, particularly with the ending.
When I heard that this second book would be following a new protagonist, I didn’t expect to see much of the characters from the first book. However, the two were less independent than I thought, and I did end up seeing a significant amount of Jos. It’s interesting to see his character from another character’s perspective.
While Burndive didn’t have the impact on me that Warchild had, I’m still glad I read it and ended up getting a lot more out of it than I initially thought.