Zed fought a war that was harder than most and, having sacrificed everything in the name of service, he expected the military to provide the post war care they promised. Instead they cut him loose and left him to deal with the fallout from a military experiment and a host of side effects that now threaten to devastate him. When a teammate and friend, Emma, is filmed slaughtering an innocent security squad, Zed realizes he must put aside his own problems and find her, before bounty hunters find her first. So he pays for passage aboard the transport ship, Chaos, never expecting to see a dead man working as the ship’s engineer.
Felix was reported killed during the war and Zed grieved his loss and the life they might have shared. Felix battled back from hell to find new purpose on the Chaos, which is the last place he ever thought to see Zed. After the initial shock passes, both men realize how desperately they have missed the other. But before they can think of the future, they must find Emma, outrun a galactic cartel, and save Zed from destroying himself.
Chaos Station is a strong sci-fi thriller, with solid world building and engaging characters. Zed is an ex-super solider, plagued by the side effects of brutal experimentation done upon him in the name of military service. He is not the man he once was, but neither has he slipped fully into the cold savagery that now resides at the edges of his mind. He’s a fighter and we find ourselves wanting him to hold out, to stay strong, if only for a chance to find some measure of happiness at the end of it all. Felix was a solider as well, but he was horrifically injured and his scars, mental and physical, run deep. Perhaps, as a result, he is less staid than Zed and his emotions bubble more closely to the surface. This makes Felix relatable, and as a result Zed is more relatable. Through Felix’s eyes, we see the man worth saving and not the experiment gone wrong. Despite the years lost to the war, their rekindled devotion feels real and substantive, without lacking dimension and depth. These two men have the capacity to love deeply and completely, both one another and the ragtag group they call friends, which makes their journey and the obstacles they face all the more credible and important to the reader.
The secondary cast, both the crew of the Chaos, and Emma, Zed’s ex-teammate now on the run, add to the overall story and provide a wider scope to the world where Zed and Felix exist. I would have liked to know more about their individual pasts and, while that lack of information does not weaken the plot, it does leave them feeling slightly less than complete. My biggest issue with the novel was pacing. The narrative is well formed and the conflicts feel palpable, but there are times when the action drags, especially during the middle of the book. I feel as though thirty pages could have been shaved away and left the essence of the plot more or less intact. My only other irritation concerns the use of names. Both Zed and Felix have multiple names throughout the book, used for various reasons, but the authors toss them out interchangeably. Once true identities are revealed, it would have been nice to dump some of the aliases and nicknames. Still this is an annoyance more than a real complaint and it certainly doesn’t detract from the novel as a whole.
Chaos Station was a gratifying read all around and I was certainly happy to see there is a sequel coming out in a few months. The wider context of the world the authors have created certainly leaves room for lots of growth while I think Zed and Felix have the potential to become real reader favorites. I would recommend Chaos Station to anyone who wants some quality sci-fi and a great romance.