The honest to God truth is that it's a very political book. Jax is trying to broker an alliance with the Ithtorian people in order to ensure some defense against the scary spider monsters in the coming Scary Spider Monster War. I know, your thinking Scary Spider Monster War sounds pretty creepy and exciting, and I agree with you. I want to see that too. But this book is not that. It's just about politics. Oh, and March's brain is all screwed up and Jax has to try to fix it. That's this book.
So, if you've surrendered yourself to the idea that this is a book of politics, you actually won't be disappointed. While it might sound boring, and does definitely drag in some places, there is a certain tension and grimness that keeps some interest. There's a very unsettling tone to the whole thing, with Jax trying desperately to leash her impulsiveness and behave diplomatically in a very hostile environment. She has to adjust to a culture and language so foreign that any move might be a misstep. I do, personally, like this sort of thing. I didn't necessarily need so much of it though.
In order to give the reader a wider view of what's going on in the wide world, there are news reports and editorial letters interspersed throughout. I really liked that. It aided in creating the sense of urgency associated with Jax's work.
I still do really, really like these characters. There's some great character development that goes on in this book. You really see how Jax has changed in attitude and in her relationships. The process that she goes through to try to rehabilitate March is particularly touching.
I still cautiously recommend this series to sci-fi fans. I have a lot of hope for it.
For fans of this series...This is no doubt the slowest yet. I recommend having patience with it. There's a lot to like here, if you can get through it. 3.5 stars.