Dealing With The Traumas of The Past and Offering New Hope: "Jacinto's Remnant" by Karen Traviss

"Jacinto's Remnants" is the second part of the Gears of War book series and takes place right after the events of the second game and sinking Jacinto. As such it deals with the fallout of these events.

Just as the prior book, the story is split into two plots: the one set in the present in which the COG tries to rebuild humanity with the few people left. While the one in the past, focuses on the COG destroying their planet with the Hammer Strikes. 

Jacinto's Remnant by Karin Traviss

Both stories have a heavy focus on emotions and trauma as well as interpersonal relationships. The past shows more insight into Dom's relationship with Maria - showing us his love and dedication, as well as the ruined mental state of Maria after their children died. 

This hits even harder, when in the present Dom grieves for Maria and what he had to do. He has an
extremely rough time doing so. Delta Squad and especially Marcus look after him, trying to give him stability. Dom is unstable, and depressed.

Dom's psych report in Gears of War 3
Dom's psych report as seen in Gears of War 3
However, through he also has good days. Days on which he is content and as the book progresses they slowly become more and more. In fact, Dom does get better. There is a grave difference between the one in the first few pages and the man at the end, who started to cope. 

In fact, not only Dom's trauma plays a bigger role in this story. There is also Bernie. In "Aspho Fields" the story already hinted towards what happened to her, and "Jacinto's Remnants" explicitly confirmed that Bernie had been raped. There is no shyness in that regard - all while avoiding graphic descriptions.  

Bernie went a very different route and decided that she wouldn't be a victim. If she let that happen, then her rapists would win. 

Vic, I'm okay. I don't bake a cake to celebrate the anniversary but it doesn't stop me living, either. Every good time I have is a big fuck-you to that bastard in thereBernie to Victor Hoffman, page 337

The dark sides of trauma are never hidden, they are not made beautifully tragic. They are ugly and painful. There is no shame in displaying this, and no blow is softened. Bernie feels regret for what she did in the past due to her trauma. While Dom has to accept that he hadn't had another choice no matter what he wished for. 

Furthermore, neither of these people are only their traumas. Bernie remains the Bad Ass Motherfucker she has always been. Even Dom continues to have a life, hanging with friends, Marcus, and regularly being on patrol and doing his duty. 

While there are fewer battle scenes the quality has improved. There is less importance on suspension. Instead it relies on confusion and direct action. Especially so because they are written from the point of view from people who are joining the battle after it has started. As such, the character has to find their way around those hot grounds, and orientate themselves. 

As mentioned above, the second story line deals with the Hammer Strikes that burnt most of Sera. It is an extremely haunting story - filled with rules, helplessness, and people who are just trying to hold on. The result does not matter. Towards the end, you can feel the somber mood through the pages, the emptiness of the streets, and the grey suet sticking to everything. Especially so towards the end, when the Gears patrol the first time after the strikes. There are no emotions only cold shock that cannot be expressed due to the destruction. 

The bitter sooty smell that filled the air in Ephyria was now overwhelmingly smoky. Palls still rose from buildings in the distance, black plumes on a gray sky. There was no color at all in the landscape. The only color Dom could see was inside the 'Dill -blue lights, yellow warning signs, red emergency controls - and it just added to his sense of unreality, like watching a black-and-white movie. Real life was colored. Everything in Dom's brain told him not to believe what he was seeing. "Jacinto's Remnant, page 320

"Jacinto's Remnant" dives into the aftermath of the second game, and does so well. The heavier focus on emotion is dealt with decently. Any reader who cares about their beloved Gears as well as enjoys reading action scenes is well served with this book. 

P.S.: At this point I'd trust Karen Traviss with my life. 

Jacinto's Remnantby Karen Traviss
Series:Gears of War #2
Published2009by Del Ray
Genres: apocalyptic Sci-Fi
Add to your shelf on ... The StoryGraph GoodReads
Content warnings:violence, , suicidal thoughts, and rape mention

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