Axiom’s End, the first in a trilogy, introduces and follows Cora Sabino, a college dropout from LA. Her father, Nils Ortega, left the family several years earlier and recently has made himself an enemy of the government after leaking information about potential extra terrestrial interaction. After a second major contact event in so many weeks shakes the area and puts her family in the CIA’s crosshairs, Cora comes in contact with something nonhuman that forces her to go on the run with help from her aunt Luciana, Nils’s sister and a former government worker whose work is shrouded in secrecy. Alien hijinks, lots of lies, and poor decisions by a teenager ensue.
I picked up the book because I am a big fan of Ellis (this is another one I picked up when it was first published and am only just getting to it). I’m more of a dystopian civilization sci-fi fan, but I’ve enjoyed some of Octavia Butler’s first contact writing, so I was open to it. Unfortunately, this story was very much not my bag. I had a hard time imagining things as I was reading, realizing that what was popping up in my head did not match descriptions in many respects. I’m also not entirely clear on the world building in terms of the ETs. I don’t fully understand all of the stakes, so additional layers that were revealed didn’t mean all the much to me.
The big thing that annoyed me was the choice to make the main character a teenager who did so much dumb teenager shit. I’d be rooting for Cora, and then she’d do the thing she was told not to do, and things would go haywire. If you enjoy or don’t mind people stumbling from one emotional decision to another to propel at least 50% of the book’s action, then you’ll enjoy this. Also I think I’m just not into the whole human-attached-to-an-alien trope, as I’m not usually into the two-people-who-shouldn’t-be-connected trope.
As I mentioned, this is the first in a trilogy, and the second book, The Truth of the Divine, is already published, but I’m not inclined to check it out. If you like teenage heroines and alien bonding, you might like this. I don’t want to malign this book and say it’s bad because I don’t know if it is in comparison to similar stories. I think it’s just not for me, and that’s fine, and I’m interested to see what frequent first encounter readers who have a neutral opinion of Ellis think.