The aliens actually arrived decades ago, but the government kept that a secret. Now, they are warring with each other and the public is aware that something is amiss because of a whistleblower. That is the subject of Axiom’s End, but Lindsay Ellis.
Set in 2007, protagonist Cora is the daughter of the whistleblower, living in the LA area. She gets reluctantly involved, not only in the CIA’s dealings with these aliens but also personally involved as a helper to one of the aliens, nicknamed Ampersand. The pace of the nearly four hundred page novel is fast at first. In the first few chapters, instead of itching for the plot to move forward, things happen quickly. Cora is believable, smart, and likable, and the action is clearly written.
The book slows down quite a bit about two-thirds of the way in. The infighting, cultural, linguistical, and physical attributes of the aliens are quite complex, including complexities between types of aliens. Their social hierarchy and relationships between each other are also quite complex. Cora’s relationship with Ampersand left me feeling a little uncomfortable. There is a genre of writing devoted to stories between humans (usually women) and aliens or mythical creatures, and I became concerned that Ellis dips her toe a little too far into this genre. But others might love that aspect of the book. I really enjoyed the opening few chapters, but the last part of the book left me wanting something different.
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