Book Title: Ocean’s Echo
Author: Everina Maxwell
Release Date: November 1, 2022
Genres: Adult, Sci-Fi, Romance, LGBTQ+
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Ocean’s Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s hit debut, Winter’s Orbit.
Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe.
Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Like all other neuromodified “architects,” he can impose his will onto others, and he’s under orders to control Tennal by merging their minds.
Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.
Their best chance arrives with a salvage-retrieval mission into chaotic space—to the very neuromodifcation lab that Surit’s traitor mother destroyed twenty years ago. And among the rubble is a treasure both terrible and unimaginably powerful, one that upends a decades-old power struggle, and begins a war.
Tennal and Surit can no longer abandon their unit or their world. The only way to avoid life under full military control is to complete the very sync they’ve been faking.
Can two unwilling weapons of war bring about peace?
When I read Winter’s Orbit earlier this year, I was blown away by how incredible it was. Once I learned there would be a sequel in the same world, but with different characters, I knew I had to read it. I was a little bit nervous about Ocean’s Echo because of how much I loved Winter’s Orbit, but wow did Ocean’s Echo blow all my expectations out of the water. There was a moment in one of the earliest chapters that once I read it, there was no stopping my progress with the book. I just kept reading and reading because I needed all the answers, and I needed them immediately.
While I would describe Winter’s Orbit as a romance with sci-fi, I would consider Ocean’s Echo to be a sci-fi with romance. The relationship between the MCs was an essential part of the story, but the sci-fi elements were even more so. I’m not gonna lie, there were a few parts where I had no idea what was happening, but that did not lesson my enjoyment of the book in the slightest. I was so tense the entire time, my heart pounding as I kept reading to discover what was going on. Ocean’s Echo is definitely an edge of your seat kind of story, and I loved every second of it.
The plot was so complex and detailed. There would be instances when a new point would be revealed, and I knew it was relevant somehow, but for the life of me, I could not figure out how. So when it was finally uncovered, I was a mess of excitement and nerves. Things got really crazy at about the 60% mark and did not slow down until the very end. I wasn’t sure my poor heart could take much more, but at the same time, I never wanted it to finish.
Throughout the course of the book, I had to keep pausing and marveling at what a masterpiece Ocean’s Echo is. The writing style was beautiful and intricate, perfect for a sci-fi novel. Everina Maxwell has a wonderful way of weaving a story with the perfect balance of feelings/emotions and vivid detail for the reader to imagine each scene.
The tension and the pining in this book was perfection. Tennel and Surit are expected to sync together, a term used in the military for a reader and architect, where the architect takes full control of the reader. Unfortunately for the military, they chose the most unwilling and stubborn reader, as well as the most upstanding and rule-following architect ever. Since this sync is nonconsensual and being forced on Tennel, Surit refuses to take part in it, and instead works with Tennel to fake the sync. The two then join forces to help each other reach their goals, and as the story progresses, their bond grows stronger, and their want for each other becomes impossible to ignore.
I adored these two so much! Tennel has a carefree, ‘nothing fazes me’ attitude, with no mind for rules or orders, while Surit is the complete opposite in every way. He keeps his feelings locked up deep inside, follows rules to a tee, and has a strong sense of justice. Their attraction to each other was evident early on, but because of the situation, it was impossible for them to act on it. Thus leads to one of my favorite tropes in romance: pining. Watching Tennel and Surit come out of their shells and trust each other was so sweet and endearing.
In addition to Tennel and Surit, there were also some awesome side characters that added more fun and interesting layers to the story. Basavi and Istara were my favorites, and I would absolutely read another story helmed by them. Basavi was shyer, though firm in her opinions; meanwhile, Istara was loud, sarcastic, and never afraid to let you know what they thought of you. They were just the allies Tennel and Surit needed, and I loved the dynamic between the four of them.
Also, I have to mention how much I adore how queer this world is. Each society is queer and accepting, and there’s no homophobia present. All of the conflicts arise from other sources entirely unrelated to the characters’ sexualities and identities. We need more of this in fiction!
Honestly, I could go on and on about how much I loved Ocean’s Echo. It’s been a couple of days since I finished it, but my thoughts keep straying back to the book, even when I’m supposed to be doing other things. If you haven’t read Winter’s Orbit, or if Ocean’s Echo isn’t on your TBR yet, I highly recommend adding them! This series will not disappoint.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
I also had the absolute pleasure of designing special edition edges for Winter’s Orbit and Ocean’s Echo for Dazzling Bookish Shop. If you’re interesting in purchasing those, you can find them here: https://dazzlingbookishshop.com/products/winter-s-orbit-ocean-s-echo
Check out my last blog post: Budding Attraction (Cover & Excerpt Reveal)