cover image For the First Time, Again

For the First Time, Again

Sylvain Neuvel. Tordotcom, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-26257-8

Neuvel concludes his alternate history Take Them to the Stars trilogy (after Until the Last of Me) with this exciting race against time. In 1999, 12-year-old Aster wakes up in a Mississippi hospital after witnessing her adoptive father’s death. Her unusual blood tests draw attention from U.S. Col. Benjamin Veilleux, who attempts to bring her against her will with him to D.C. Aster sneaks away and narrowly evades recapture with the help of Samael, who claims to be a friend of the mother she never met. Aster initially rejects Samael’s story that they are both descended from a pair of alien scouts, but submits to his combat training to protect herself from both the government and a different species of invading aliens lured to Earth by a mysterious beacon. The pair hide out from their enemies in a remote Philippine village—until Aster comes up with an audacious plan to send the beacon into space on a probe and so misdirect the incoming aliens. Neuvel keeps the frantically paced plot tight and effectively counterbalances all the action with nuanced character work. Series fans will not be disappointed. (Apr.)