Roughly a year after the events of Nova, Michael Sorenson is now a soldier, working to evacuate people from stations and planets overrun by ghouls and squatters (humans infected by ghouls). When he’s offered a job working for research and development, he believes he’s helping save the human race from the alien threat. Then he uncovers signs of sabotage on the station. He searches for the saboteur even as the scientists search for a way to eradicate the ghouls, once and for all.
This is book 2 in the Spectre War series, and while you can read this volume without reading book 1, a lot of Michael’s motivations come down to what happened at the end of Nova. This book has a very different feel, being entirely about the military and how to attack and defend yourself against an incorporeal opponent. While there’s camaraderie, there’s no romance and I was astonished at how willing the author was to show that war means loss.
You don’t learn as much about Michael’s compatriots as I’d have liked, but they are an interesting bunch. The power play interludes between the Chairman, the Admiral, and the Doctor, were also great in terms of showing what was happening with the war outside R&D.
Though a lot of the science goes unexplained (like how ships travel the vast distances of space between planets and stations) there’s some great world-building. Though mentioned only briefly, the Order of the Spectre horrified me, but unfortunately didn’t surprise me as a religious belief system. The planet where R&D is stationed sounded quite beautiful, and I’d have loved to visit, ghouls notwithstanding.
The plot takes several interesting turns, and the ending, though not as shocking as that of Nova, was still unsettling in its implications. I can’t wait to see what happens next.