Fault Tolerance: A Novel

Image of Fault Tolerance: A Novel (Chilling Effect, 3)
Release Date: 
August 2, 2022
Harper Voyager
Reviewed by: 

“Valdes blends found family, adventure, and humor to end a fun trilogy on a high note.”

If you’re looking for a good time and some trouble in space, look no further than Captain Eva Innocente and her ragtag crew of misfits—don’t worry, they’d describe themselves that way, too. Fault Tolerance is Valerie Valdes’s third book following the found family of La Sirena Negra, and it builds on the stories that came before it, Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions.

Given that they’ve been fighting a mafia-like galaxy-wide organization, performing rescue missions, and zipping from star to star in pursuit of information about an ancient alien race (see those previous novels), Eva and company are just trying to take a vacation and relax. But predictably, it doesn’t take them long to get into mischief and cause a little mayhem.

Their adventures are anything but predictable, though, as the reality competition Eva enters is shut down by the sudden arrival of monoliths broadcasting a simple message through the entire galaxy: “Surrender or be exterminated.” Foreboding.

Luckily, the aforementioned ancient alien race, the Proarkhe, gets in touch with Eva about the situation and asks for her help. Eva has learned her lesson about leaping into dangerous situations without thinking, so she consults her crew before making a decision.

Valdes sketches out the whole gang with fun details and illustrates the sense of respect that they have for each other, providing the story with a lot of heart. The reader gets a glimpse into Eva’s darker backstory, and the decisions she had to make that weigh heavily on her heart, though it’s not explored as much as in the previous books in the series.

Pink, the ship’s medic and Eva’s right hand woman, is back, and as newly christened co-captain, provides a lot of balance and takes some of the pressure off Eva. The psychic cats get a few more pages in the book, and their personalities bring warmth and laughter to the story. And Eva’s love interest, Vakar, provides a grounding force for her when he returns mid-book from a spy mission. The rest of the group has come together over the series, and everyone feels like they’ve earned their place, and the affection that comes with it.

Given that the stakes are higher than ever—it’s literally life or death for basically the whole universe—the crew decides to help the Proarkhe by searching for three giant robots that are supposed to act as weapons in the fight against the enemy that launched the monoliths. That’s right, it’s a quest!

Unfortunately, the La Sirena Negra isn’t the only one searching for the mechs, and things start to get dicey quickly. Familiar enemy faces resurface enough times that the reader feels the same annoyance that Eva and her cohorts do every time they pop up. There are quite a few battles spread throughout the pages of Fault Tolerance, but it never feels overwhelming or stale. The crew is used to flying by the seat of their spacesuits, a skill which serves them well when getting into skirmishes and narrowly avoiding scrapes.

Most of the Sirena’s crew is human, and it shows in their mistakes and impulsivity. Despite (usually) good intentions, they are often the cause of some of the issues they run into, but instead of being frustrating, it comes across as endearing.

Eva’s sprinkling of Spanish provides a highlight for the cultural diversity that Fault Tolerance wears nonchalantly. And Valdes sprinkles humor and sarcasm liberally, bringing levity to the storyline. The plot moves briskly, with enough momentum to keep readers entertained from start to finish.

Valdes blends found family, adventure, and humor to end a fun trilogy on a high note.