Crossing the Line by Karen Traviss

Crossing the Line by Karen TravissCrossing the Line by Karen Traviss
Published: Harper Collins (2004), eBook, 373pg
Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi

Shan Frankland forever abandoned the world she knew to come to the rescue of a lost colony on a distant and dangerous planet -- a hostile world coveted by two alien races and fiercely protected by a third. But in the course of her mission, she overstepped a boundary and stumbled into forbidden lands. And she can never go back -- to being neutral, to being safe. To being human.
War is coming again to Cavanagh's Star -- and this time, the instigators will be the troublesome gethes from the faraway planet Earth. Former Environmental Enforcement Officer Shan Frankland has already crossed a line, and now she is a prize to be captured ... or a threat to be eliminated. But saving a coveted world and its fragile native population may require of her one unthinkable sacrifice: the destruction of her own ruthless, invading species.

Lots of stuff from City of Pearl got carried over into this book, both thematically and character developmentally. For example, humans are still not special! And now they’ve invited an alien species to, like…visit? And that species looks like spiders and they’re way overpopulated and basically like the opposite of the Wess’har1 when it comes to respect for life and taking care of the planet and stuff.

So basically we’ve now got, from least good to most good: spider aliens, humans, Wess’har. Handy! And completely misleading, because the story and the characters are way more complex than “good” or “bad.”

That’s what makes this series so much fun! Even the characters who acted like villains in the first book (and continue to do so in this one) get their turn in the spotlight; this forced me to empathize with them and not just dismiss them as “crazy human” or “scary spider alien.” Love it!

Another fun thing is that in this book we get more information about Wess’har society. There’s all kind of interesting tidbits, like how they have spaceships that’re 5,000 years old. And how the matriarchs dominate by scent and will. Which, btw, Shan has in spades. So much so that she disposes the old matriarch and accidentally becomes queen of the aliens! Whoops.

Also she’s now (alien-)married to Aras which is EVERYTHING I WANTED except for how I didn’t think through the physical aspects enough and WOAH BOY. Just in case you go into this series thinking “oh yeah, sexy human/alien romance with bonus environmental conservation,” just FYI: all the sexy is in the emotional/intellectual connection. Turns out there are physical compatibility issues between aliens, y’all. Even aliens who look sorta human!

There’s six books in this series and, it turns out, it’s a huge epic with one main story2 and very little subplots. It’d get a little tiring after a while except that the characters keep doing things to make it interesting. (Revenge! Spies! Alien-marriage!) I’m definitely going to read the rest of the series, if only to see what happens to my favorite characters next.

Read: August 16-19, 2015

  1. who, btw, apparently look like sea horses with mohawks.
  2. which seems to be Humans Keep Doing Bad Things to Aliens and Aliens Retaliate.

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