Author: Lindsay Ellis
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Release date: July 21, 2020
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Pre-order now: Amazon
“It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government―and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him―until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.
Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human―and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.”
I want to begin by saying I was granted access to this ARC on NetGalley in order to provide an honest review, and that is what I intend to do. My thoughts here are my own and not influenced by any outside factors.
I’ll be honest here, I was browsing through NetGalley and the cover of this book popped out at me. I’m not usually one to fall in love with the cover of a book, but this is just so exactly my kind of aesthetic. I requested an ARC before I even really checked out what the book was about, and boy was I glad I did. This book has quickly moved it’s way up my own personal favorites of the year.
I have seen in multiple different places online that the book is billed as “Stranger Things for the early 2000’s” and honestly that is about as accurate as it gets. The book follows the story of Cora who’s father is the most notorious whistleblower of all time. He blew the lid on extraterrestrial coverup and left their family to deal with the scrutiny. I don’t want to get too much into the story because it had such a grip on me personally that I didn’t even want to put this book down. I’ll say though that the idea of a twenty-two year old woman acting as the only means of interpretation between an alien life-form called Ampersand and the entire United States government is one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The book is set in the early 2000’s, namely 2007, and the references used are perfect. We read about things you might expect with this type of story, George W. Bush is the president and is lovingly referred to as Dubya by Nils. There are references to the music of the time and even to video games like Oblivion. We even get the obvious Star Wars references you might expect from something like this. Lindsay Ellis did a great job of portraying what it felt like to live in the 2000’s and makes it feel natural even with the looming alien invasion that everyone is afraid might be happening.
This was a fun read, but one that really ramped up toward the last quarter. If not for the fact I had to sleep I think I would have finished the last half of the book in one go. There were moments where I legitimately did not know what to expect for Cora and I couldn’t read the words fast enough. I wanted to yell out to her that something was coming or that she shouldn’t be doing something, which I guess says a lot about the author’s ability to write a thriller. This is the kind of story that begs to be shown as a Netflix original, much in the vein of a Stranger Things, I think it might honestly be better.
There was something about the characters, both human and alien, that felt genuine and made me care. I wanted to see Cora find her way through this book safely and see her reach her goals, she seemed like someone that deserved that. I wanted to see some of the higher up government figures be taken down a peg, which is usually the case with any sci-fi book that includes government officials. I just can’t say enough about how Lindsay Ellis was able to craft such a believable and likable story for a young woman and an extraterrestrial being.
Everything felt so well thought out and detailed that at times I forgot this was fictitious. The way the aliens interacted with each other made sense and was explained in a way that made it feel like something that had been heavily researched and was presented as fact. Anytime I felt myself questioning something that was happening, there was an answer as to why or how that thing occurred. When reading fantasy or sci-fi I feel like all too often things are left to the imagination or it is assumed the reader will fill in the blanks, but Ellis really leaves nothing unsaid and it goes a long way to making the story feel legitimate. By the time I was finished with this book I felt as if I could go find a myriad of research topics on Ampersand, like this was the story of some real cover up.
Overall I have to say this is one of the best books I have read this year. I didn’t expect it, but I was completely engrossed from cover to cover and my only real disappointment is that it had to end. I hope that she writes a sequel, if only selfishly to continue living in this parallel 2007 world where aliens made contact. Regardless of what she does next, Lindsay Ellis has made a fan here and I can’t wait to read anything she puts out!
As always, thank you so much for reading! Let me know down below if this is one you plan on picking up when it officially releases in July! Check back for more posts (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday and sign-up via email or follow on social media to make sure you never miss anything! Have a great day!