Review: The Exiled Fleet by J.S. Dewes
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 2 of The Divide
Publisher: Paperback: Tor | Audiobook: Macmillan Audio (August 17, 2021)
Length: 432 pages | 18 hrs and 48 mins
Narrators: Andrew Eiden, Nicol Zanzarella
Another fantastic installment in The Divide series! In this second book The Exiled Fleet, we join Rake and the rest of her crew following the exhilarating (and heartbreaking) events at the end of The Last Watch. I will begin by reiterating what I said for my review of the first novel: this series would be great for fans of The Expanse, and perfect for tiding you over if you’re like me and waiting impatiently for Leviathan Falls.
As The Exiled Fleet opens, we’re catching up with our characters shortly after they’ve narrowly escaped being swallowed up by the crumbling edge of the Divide, or the boundary of the universe beyond which nothing exists. Be aware that the books of this series are meant to be read in order and that this review may reveal possible spoilers for the previous novel if you’re not caught up. Adequin Rake and her ragtag group of Sentinels, formerly assigned to patrol the Divide to guard against any known and unknown threats, are focused on a new directive now that the edge of the universe has started to collapse. Having sustained losses, their current numbers are fewer, but Rake knows she has to put aside her grief in order to do her job and save as many lives as possible. The Sentinels need supplies to survive, and as food and other vital resources begin to dwindle, a new plan is needed—and swiftly—before they all starve to death out here in the middle of nowhere.
But of course, that’s not where their troubles end. Upon getting the jump drives back online, the crew discover another problem, one that will require them to venture back into the densely populated Core from which many of the Sentinels—made up of mostly criminals, court martialed ex-soldiers, and other societal misfits—have been exiled. They have been away from home for so long that no one is really sure what to expect, but soon, being hunted makes it necessary to seek an alliance from an unlikely source.
Like The Last Watch, this sequel also left me with such an adrenaline rush when I finished. Granted, I thought the journey to that point was a little bit more meandering and jumbled this time around, due to there being so much more at stake and all this other stuff happening at once. And despite all the action and high energy, I also felt the overall tone of this novel was more subdued, possibly because of the main character’s mindset. It’s true that everyone has been through so much, but given that there are only a few months between the release dates of the first and second book, it’s also entirely possible that I was still feeling the effects of the events at the end of The Last Watch, which were pretty fresh on my mind. Rake feels like she’s barely holding herself together, and though I could sympathize with her situation, I think her emotions and impulsiveness might have also led to a more pervasive melodramatic vibe.
But heck, there was so much more in this novel that was done fantastically. I continue to enjoy the found family dynamic, for one. Even as Rake, Cavalon, and Jackin take on more prominent roles, the other characters are there to support them. Author J.S. Dewes also uses this sequel as an opportunity to develop some backstories, and some of these major revelations may shock and surprise you. Not only do these new twists make me wonder where things will go from here, they also make me feel a lot more invested in the characters and how they will deal with the fallout.
As well, I was thrilled with the robust expansion of the world-building and lore. For instance, there was plenty of insight gained into the history and motivations of the Viators, adding more intrigue to what we already know about this hostile alien race. Everything about this world just grow more fascinating the more I learn about it. The action sequences also helped keep me on the edge of my seat, and even though these high-tension scenes were pretty spread out and uneven in the first half of the book, the second half kept them rolling in steadily, providing plenty of excitement that carried me through to the end.
The conclusion definitely sets us up for more possibilities, and if indeed there’s another installment in the works, I hope it won’t be too long of a wait. Needless to say, I would highly recommend this series for sci-fi fans who enjoy character-oriented stories and lots of action.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Last Watch (Book 1)