Lindsay Ellis’ debut novel is a doozy. Set in the recent past in 2007 she situates this science fiction novel in Bush’s America, as a whistleblower drops the knowledge bomb that we have made first contact with an alien species. Have we? Is it a hoax? No one is quite sure. The government disavows knowledge, but rather than be situated as your standard action-oriented alien adventure, we meet Cora, the estranged teenaged daughter of said whistleblower who is in the middle of the action, whether she likes it or not. This book has a lot of angles: I estimate it as 1/4 YA coming of age, 1/4 the movie ET, 1/4 X-Files, and the last 1/4 straight science fiction. It’s impressive how she pulls it all together in this ambitious and intriguing debut.
I was all in at the beginning of the book: Ellis strings you in and you have NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING. I was very eager to keep turning the pages, racing along to see where she was heading. Once things settled in a bit and all the red herrings were cast aside and we were on the path ahead, she lost me a little. She gets a little too technical for my liking in some of the excerpts from official communication, and explanation of intergallactic strife so my pacing slowed a bit. I would qualify it as “can’t put down” in the first quarter and then “still solid” in the back half.
Plus, there are a lot of fun cheeky teenaged moments, as with my title quote, when Cora is forced to use a My Chemical Romance shirt and comments, “At least it isn’t Nickelback.” I mean, aside from actual members of Nickelback, who isn’t here for a little Nickelback bashing?? If you like science fiction or maybe aren’t sure if you do, this is a fun one as it pulls from a lot of common science fiction situations to create something wholly new.