Everina Maxwell’s Ocean’s Echo is an entertaining, high-stakes space opera and heartfelt romance.
Tennal Halkana is a socialite with the ability to read minds, which makes him a security threat. He is conscripted into the military and placed under the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, who can influence others’ thoughts and is tasked with merging their minds. However, Surit refuses to sync with an unconsenting Tennal, and they fake a bond while planning his escape. They must salvage a powerful treasure from a lab that Surit’s mother destroyed. But, to complete the mission and avoid being controlled by the military, they must sync their minds. The story follows their attempts to bring about peace using their abilities as weapons of war.
Everina Maxwell’s space opera-style novels are known for their well-developed and character-driven world-building. “Ocean’s Echo” is the story of two young men with mental abilities searching for their place in the world and finding it in each other. The book is set in the same universe as Maxwell’s debut novel, “Winter’s Orbit,” and features familiar political themes and structures such as the Resolution and Remnants. The story involves fake soul bonding, intergalactic war, familiar romance tropes, and genre elements like dangerous alien artifacts and pseudo-body horror. The combination of these elements makes Maxwell’s work unique in the genre.
Their pressured circumstances and the book’s closed-in settings, including space stations, transport ships, and small retrieval tugs, bring Tennal and Surit closer together, even when they prefer to be apart. Tennal is outgoing and chaotic, while Surit is disciplined and straightforward. Their differing personalities and experiences help hold their bond and the story together.
The romance is a slow burn, with little more than a few kisses throughout the book. However, the intimacy that comes from sharing their minds is compelling. The seductive trust they develop is crucial to the story, as they are the only ones who can bring each other back to consciousness or mental clarity. The emotional intimacy between them is well-written and feels earned and inevitable rather than forced by the plot. Overall, the romance in the book is balanced and satisfying.
Maxwell has provided content warnings for Ocean’s Echo on her website.