cover image Axiom’s End

Axiom’s End

Lindsay Ellis. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-25673-7

Communication and trust are matters of life and death in Ellis’s thoughtful, fast-paced debut. In 2007, two meteorites strike the Los Angeles area within the span of one month and a leak reveals that the U.S. government is aware of extraterrestrial life on earth. Cora Sabino, the whistleblower’s daughter, is abducted by one of these life-forms shortly thereafter. Cora makes a deal to interpret for her abductor, Ampersand, the alien who arrived with the first meteorite whose language she’s able to understand thanks to his advanced technology. She hopes to use her ability to communicate with Ampersand to bargain for her father’s safety from the government. But soon, Cora’s caught in the middle of an interspecies alien conflict as Obelus, who arrived in the second meteorite, hunts down the Fremda group, refugees who arrived on Earth 40 years earlier. Cora and Ampersand bond while working together, but can Cora really trust a being whose conception of morality is so different from her own? Though a too-quick ending is somewhat unsatisfying, the powerful connection that grows between Cora and Ampersand as they teach each other about their respective cultures is masterfully done. Lovers of character-focused sci-fi will find plenty to enjoy in this gripping alternate history. Agent: Christopher Hermelin, the Fischer-Harbage Agency. (July)