I was reading this novel in the Apple Store (while waiting for them to check out my MacBook Air), when one of the techs came up to me and said how much he enjoyed Axiom’s End. I love it when a fellow reader sees your book and makes a comment. I agreed with him and was surprised when he told me there was a second book! I’ll have to look for it.
I found Axiom’s End while using the RSS feed on Cannonball to find SF reviews (thanks, Bothari43 for setting that up for me). The review was interesting, so I ordered the book. It hits the ground running by introducing us to Cora, a college dropout who lives with her family, is late for work, and is being monitored by the CIA because her father runs a Wikileaks organization. He leaked a story about aliens landing years before, and the family separated from him. Not only does Cora’s life suck, but she’s being followed by the CIA. And aliens are lurking in the empty house across the street.
There are apparently two types of aliens on Earth (actually a lot more, but they’re more benign): Good Aliens and Bad Aliens. The Good Aliens have been here a while, imprisoned by the US government, and a new Good Alien has arrived to (a) free the trapped aliens, (b) use them to fight the newly arrived Bad Aliens, and (c) learn about humanity. Ampersand (the alien, named for the first ship’s crashlanding) is more machine than organic being, and he uses Cora to find out more about humans and locate the missing aliens.
The Bad Aliens have arrived to destroy the Earth because humans have the potential to surpass the Superorganism, a being who rules the galaxy. They also wish to destroy Ampersand and his people. Through her bond with the friendly alien, Cora convinces the aliens to work with the government to save themselves. They surrender and are cloistered in Cheyenne Mountain at NORAD. Cora, still unsure why she’s involved, only wants her family to be released from government “protective custody.” Ampersand insists she’s the single person he’ll talk to and promotes her as his “interpreter” although he can speak to humans through a special algorithm he’s developed after years on Earth.
The Bad Aliens blow up Cheyenne Mountain (!), but the Good Aliens escape. As the conflict draws to a close, Cora discovers the head of the Bad Aliens is Ampersand’s beloved, and he will be helpless to defend himself in a battle. Her connection with Ampersand (and his growing enlightenment of humanity) help save the day and Cora when she’s almost cut in half. If she survives, can she break her link with the closest friend she’s ever had? Does she even want to?
Exciting stuff, and I’ll definitely look for the sequel.