by Fonda Lee
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December 12, 2016
Seventeen-year-old Donovan Reyes has it all: his father is the “Prime Liaison” between humanity and the alien zhree, who conquered Earth a century ago, and Donovan himself, a technologically enhanced “exo,” is part of SecPac, enforcing the law and dealing with human insurrection. When he’s captured by the resistance group Sapience, he’s thrust into unfamiliar and dangerous territory, which grows even more complicated after he discovers a personal connection to one of its members. Still loyal to the zhree and to his father, Donovan is conflicted; determined to preserve peace and lives on both sides, he disobeys orders, questions procedure, and eventually stumbles on terrible hidden truths. Lee (Shadowboxer) constructs a plausibly alien future society and uses the premise to offer thought-provoking questions on occupation and colonization, placing her hero in a murky state of morality as she explores divided loyalties and conflicting obligations. Things perhaps come a bit too easily to Donovan at times, but the story’s open-ended conclusion begs for further development and exploration. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.
November 1, 2016
Sometime in the future, a young soldier working for the extraterrestrials who have conquered Earth fights a rebel group but learns that he has family ties to someone he sees as a criminal.Seventeen-year-old Donovan Reyes wants only to be a good soldier, even though he's the only child of the Prime Liaison, West America's ambassador to the zhree, who conquered Earth a century earlier. When he was a child, his dad had him Hardened, transforming his human skin into flexible armor plating called an exocel, rather like the zhree. Donovan gets along well with the fairly benign zhree, as does much of humanity, but a band of rebels remains determined to expel them from the planet. Captured by the rebels, Donovan soon learns that one of their leaders has a connection to him. He also meets the pretty rebel Anya and finds himself far too attracted to her. While in captivity Donovan begins to see rebels as individuals rather than criminals, while some of them struggle with the notion that despite his armor plating, Donovan is still human. When a new threat appears readers are left to wonder whether humanity's life with the zhree might be a good development. Lee keeps her science fiction credible, effectively building this future world and establishing its rules efficiently. Racial differences are mentioned, though Donovan and Anya both appear to be light-skinned. Believable, suspenseful science fiction. (Science fiction. 12-18)
COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
December 1, 2016
Gr 7 Up-After becoming a colony of an alien race, Earth has seen peace for 100 years. When certain children reach age five or six, they receive an exocel, or hard alien skeleton fused into their bodies. Donovan, 17, is an exo, and his erze marking designates him as an enhanced human soldier, indoctrinated since age 12 into training for SecPac, the colony's security force. His human father is Prime Liaison, the lead diplomat between the human government and erze oversight in West America. A human revolutionary group called Sapience instigates hatred toward SecPac by encouraging people to kill anyone who is erze-marked. During a shoot-out with suspected Sapience members, Donovan is captured by the group. After being tortured, he expects to be executed, but he becomes Sapience's bargaining chip after they learn who his father is. Even as he realizes that his father is not willing to negotiate for his release, he falls for a young Sapience member, Anya. The fate of Earth rests on his survival because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. Donovan discovers how his choices and actions can have devastating results, and his loyalties are torn among SecPac, his warring estranged parents, Sapience, and Anya. This action-packed novel asks readers to consider alien technology, what it means to be human or nonhuman, and the gray areas in war, where neither side is completely good or evil. VERDICT Ethical questions add complex layers to this exciting sci-fi offering. For large YA collections.-Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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