cover image The Blue, Beautiful World

The Blue, Beautiful World

Karen Lord. Del Rey, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-59843-6

Lord returns to the galaxy-spanning sci-fi realm of The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game, setting this excellent outing on a near-future Earth irrevocably altered by climate change and political turmoil. Young adults from all over the world come together every year in a model global government tasked with finding solutions to real and imagined problems and taking their ideas back to their own countries. This year, the model government’s Diplomatic Group, all from formerly colonized countries, are given a hypothetical first contact scenario. Then a video message from a real alien leader is beamed planetwide—and the teens are shocked to recognize it. The beings in the footage they’ve been analyzing are not actors in costumes; Earth has already been invaded by an alien cartel looking to extract what they can from humanity—and it’s up to the young diplomatic team to negotiate with them. Fortunately, they may have a secret weapon on their side: charismatic one-named pop star Owen. Lord’s choice to focus on the voices of historically colonized peoples adds depth and compassion to the classic alien invasion trope. Though it can be read as a standalone, series readers will get the most out of this heartfelt and thoughtful, but still action-packed, romp. (Aug.)