I usually avoid Youtuber’s books, simply because they all tend to be autobiographies of twenty-something-year-olds (I really doubt they’ve done enough yet to warrent an autobiography). But I do love seeing Youtubers who come out with actual novels. I’ve watched Lindsay Ellis on and off, though I’ve never actively followed her channel. However, this book looked really interesting and I have been wanting to read more science fiction.
Release: July 2020
Page Count: 384
Synopsis: Cora Sabino wants to live her life as a normal girl, despite being the daughter of a infamous alien whistleblower, who has prompted massive conspiracy theories about alien contact that the government is hiding. Cora wants nothing to do with this, until a highly intelligent alien named Ampersand implants her with a chip which allows him to communicate with her and only her. Soon Cora is pulled into a massive government power between two worlds.
Before I get to the review, I do want to mention that I’m not an avid science fiction reader, so some might find this book to contain cliches that I wouldn’t notice or appreciate the sciency stuff that goes right over my head. With that out of the way, let’s get into it.
There are a lot of things I like about this book, though I felt like it does have some weaknesses. It is slow-moving, and not simply because it takes a look at alien cultures and linguistics. There are a few unnecessary scenes that felt like they bogged down the narrative. I did enjoy the building of Cora and Ampersand’s relationship, as they are in a sense forced to trust each other in a precarious situation. I also enjoyed how Ellis constantly defied my expectations for character motivations and plot twists. The first two thirds of the book feel really laid-back, taking the time to examine the world, whereas the last third in more fast-paced and action orientated. I really did not enjoy the excerpts from Cora’s father’s writing, as we never actually meet him and he feels like a background character thrust into the center pointlessly at times.
The relationship between Cora and Ampersand boarder between friendship and almost romance, which felt really weird considering they’re different species. Most of the time I enjoyed seeing them try to understand and trust each other more, but at times it felt kind of uncomfortable…I’m just not a fan of alien romance and this toed the line just a bit too close. There were times I wanted to see more of a wide-world view of what was going on instead of just being from Cora’s perspective.
Speaking of Cora, she does at times feel like a passive protagonist. In some scenes she is proactive, but for the most part she is kind of forced into every situation. The FBI investigates her family so she has to run, Ampersand puts his chip in her so she has to go with him, the government keeps her as Ampersand’s translator, and more spoiler related things. There are some great scenes where she acts on her own, like when she decides not to kill Ampersand when he is unconscious early on and instead just drives away, but even those scenes seem like there wasn’t much of a choice anyway, like what good protagonist would have actually killed an innocent alien?
The culture of Ampersand, especially his language and society, was probably my favorite part of the book. It does use more technical language, which I have no way of knowing whether it’s accurate or not because I definitely don’t have much expertise in science, but it seemed to all make sense to me. I loved Ampersand’s growing understanding for emotion, which is not in his culture, and how to treat humans and what is family.
I also found it interesting how the book is an alternative history, set during Bush’s presidency in 2007 and changing how history goes. It also sets up for a strong sequel, though I won’t give away any spoilers of what I think will happen in the sequel or what happened at the end of this book.
I ended up giving this book four stars on Goodreads. It had it’s weaknesses, but I’m glad I picked it up and I will definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out.
Have you heard of this book? Does it look interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,