My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. I know as a secondary school teacher-librarian that I’m supposed to remain neutral at all times, but I loved this book. Through this universe in which current generations of humans have joined forces with alien governance, Fonda Lee is able to explore the effects of colonization. It reminds me of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave and its deeper than Eve Silver‘s book Rush. It explores polarization without the artifice of Hunger Games’ Districts or Divergent’s Factions.
Donovan is a political agent entirely designed by his parents. His father is the Prime Liaison: a political position devoted to negotiations and ultimately satisfying the will of the colonizing aliens. His mother rejected the submission to the aliens and instead leads a rebellion against them. Donovan’s childhood body was experimentally subjected to transformation in order to accept an ingrained body armor called an Exocel. Donovan has the body of an athlete and has been raised to be the warrior within it…until he reconciles with his mother. Suddenly the black and white world of Exocel vs. rebellion isn’t as clear anymore. Donovan realizes the compromises that have been made on both sides in order to gain peace. He risks losing everything but feels compelled to stick up for both sides and to open up negotiations again for greater understanding.
It’s not often that a science fiction novel can spark tears in me, yet it did. I better leave it there to tempt you, rather than to risk any spoilers. I read this book as part of the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading in the White Pine nominees. I liked it better than Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves and that is saying something. Don’t overlook this book if you’re new to science fiction. I would highly recommend it to everyone but especially to any teacher who is looking for a way to explore topics of colonization with their classes.