Book Review: Chaos Vector

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Chaos Vector, Megan E. O’Keefe’s second offering in The Protectorate series is maybe more exciting than Velocity Weapon! The badass characters, thrilling action, sentient AI spaceships, politics, moral questions, they’re all here with the tempo cranked up a bit. Oh…and did I mention plot twists? Yeah, they’re back too. So strap in and lets talk about what has become one of my favorite new sci-fi series.

“Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in the second book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O’Keefe.

Sanda and Tomas are fleeing for their lives after letting the most dangerous smartship in the universe run free. Now, unsure of who to trust, Sanda knows only one thing for certain — to be able to save herself from becoming a pawn of greater powers, she needs to discover the secret of the coordinates hidden in her skull.

But getting to those coordinates is a problem she can’t solve alone. They exist beyond a dead gate — a Casimir gate that opened up into a dead-end system without resources worth colonizing, and was sealed off. To get through the dead gate, she needs the help of the enemy Nazca. But some Nazca are only interested in the chip in her head — and they’ll crack her open to get to it.” – Goodreads blurb

WHY DID I WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK!?!? 

Well, I guess I know the answer to that. Last year I read Velocity Weapon right about the time it came out then got way behind on writing reviews and didn’t review it for like four months. This time around I bought Chaos Vector right when it came out, but waited to read it until November. That’s because my TBR was stacked to the ceiling AND because I knew I wanted a good book to read during sci-fi month. I’m just not getting the review posted for sci-fi month. sigh…this is my life.

Anyway, last year I reviewed Velocity Weapon (review in link) and there were a number of things that I loved about it:

  • Badass female protagonist – check
  • Sentient AI spaceship – check
  • Behind the scenes political maneuvering – check
  • Underground rogue smugglers causing havoc for the imperialists – check
  • Unexpected plot twists – check
  • Underlying moral question – check

Everything I loved about book one was present once again, only…more! 

Badass Female Protagonist

Sanda Greeve is back and she’s pissed. Mostly because someone tried to kill her recently and frame her for something she didn’t do. Then people keep trying to kill her. So yeah she’s pissed. But whereas in Velocity Weapon she spends half the book trapped on a rogue AI controlled ship, in Chaos Vector she gets to shine as an active participant pretty much from page 1. And she’s just awesome. I’m loving the character of Sanda Greeve.

But wait…there are more badass female characters. Take Jules for instance. She was just a talented smuggler getting caught up in something much, much bigger than she knew in book 1. But now she’s become something else. Or maybe someone else. She has a mission and won’t let anyone get in her way of it.

Then there’s there’s the antagonist of the story. I won’t say who that is yet (better for you to read it all on your own) but she’s really, really hella scary since you don’t know…well…again I don’t want to say because spoilers. But lets just say there’s more to her than you might expect, and she is out for revenge.

Sentient AI Spaceship

Yep…freaky powerful AI spaceships that can’t think for themselves and wreak havoc and destruction are back. I don’t want to say too much here either (spoilers once again), but if this is something you enjoyed in book one you’ll dig it in book two as well.

Behind The Scenes Political Maneuvering

This was an aspect of Velocity Weapon that I really enjoyed and it continues in Chaos Vector. Now, let me say this isn’t like a political thriller, it doesn’t rise to that level of maneuvering, but there’s secrecy, and secret organizations, behind the scenes manipulations, and centuries old conflicts going on. O’Keefe picked up where she left off in book one and just amped it up a bit. All of this political maneuvering plays into the plot twists I’ll mention below.

Underground Rogue Smugglers Causing Havoc For The Imperialists

In Velocity Weapon this part of the plot was interesting and it made you curious because you weren’t really sure where it was going or how it impacted the overall story until right at the end. In Chaos Vector you know right from the beginning how this group plays into the story…only…you don’t know to what extent. Because there’s sooooo much going on here that only comes out as you keep reading. And what’s more, the number of underground rogue groups has increased! And some are not as underground as they once were and find themselves playing a much larger active role. 

Unexpected Plot Twists

So yeah…this was a HUGE plus in Velocity Weapon. When you saw the online chatter anytime someone read book one there was always a point where they’d post some comment along the lines of, “OMG PLOT TWIST! WHAT!?!?!?!” And all of us who had read the book were like, “Yeah…they’ve made it that chapter.” And we all knew what chapter and what they were experiencing because O’Keefe did such a fantastic job with pulling that one off.

In Chaos Vector there isn’t one plot twist that stands out so far above the others like in Velocity Weapon, but that’s because there are numerous other medium sized twists that come one after the other. I won’t give any of them away, but yeah, O’Keefe sets you on one path, switches things up to put you on another, then switches it up again. You’ll be trying to guess what is coming next and whether one narrative arc will unexpectedly change or if no shocking twist is coming. Seriously you’ll won’t know what is true, who to trust, or where the characters will be derailed. I loved it.

Underlying Moral Question

While I found one overarching moral question being grappled with in Velocity Weapon, I felt like there were multiple in Chaos Vector. They include exploring how far is acceptable to go to protect a friend or loved one; Is it ok to betray your group for the greater good; When should you withhold vital information and when to reveal it…and more. For me it’s often the moral questions raised and dealt with that make a good sci-fi story great. I love characters and action, and a great plot, but it’s where they stop to make you think that puts them over the top. While Chaos Vector raises some interesting questions it doesn’t fully grapple with them. I feel like they’ll be played out more in book three and I’ll be discussing how in the overall story arc of the series. So no negative here, but no overwhelming sucker punch to the gut either.

Conclusion

I really, really, enjoyed Chaos Vector! I enjoyed it for all the things I mentioned above and some I didn’t; like great intense action, engaging writing, and solid pacing. This isn’t hard sci-fi, so if that’s what you love you may not enjoy this series as much. But if you really enjoy well written epic space opera then this is for you. It’s a roller coaster of thrills, deception, and twists that will keep you in your reading chair turning pages all night long. If you haven’t read Velocity Weapon yet do it! Then go out and pick up a copy of Chaos Vector. I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series. This story has me hooked.

4.5 of 5 Stars

Author: Megan E. O’Keefe
Series: The Protectorate (#2)
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date:  July 28, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 546

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Chaos Vector

  1. Glad you enjoyed it! It was a lot of fun, though I did miss the MARTIAN-esque “let’s science the sh*t out of this” of the first book. I’ve been enjoying seeing where all the threads go! Biran once again just feels like a weak link though, and I’m not sure why that is….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Book Haul: May 2021 | Off The TBR

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