“You refuse to accept that you do not live in a just world. Sooner or later, you will have to.”Lindsay Ellis
Cora Sabino’s wish to live a normal, invisible life seems unlikely while her extremist father blasts opinions about the U.S. government’s “secretive” first contact encounters on the internet and major news sources each day. Because he lives a public life online, and a top secret one in reality, Cora’s family often finds themselves in the middle of the unwanted limelight. She can’t help but question why anyone is entangled in the stupidity of hoaxes until she learns first hand that extraterrestrial beings have in fact been on Earth for longer than anyone thought. Rather than running to the media, or for the hills, Cora works as an investigator and seeks to learn as much information about the alien presences as possible. After coming into the role of interpreter for one of the visitors, Cora uncovers truths that are more imminent than the conspiracy theories sweeping across her nation.
I have been a fan of Lindsay Ellis for several years now. Her intelligentially crafted video essays on YouTube are both enlightening and entertaining. When I heard about the publication of Axiom’s End in 2020, I was skeptical. I felt that it wouldn’t hold up to her onscreen brilliance, and I even went into reading it with the same opinion, but I was wrong. That being said, I believe that Ellis’ wish to “die” as an author was successful. Yes, I would recommend her other work while reading this book, but I never heard nor imagined her within the pages of Axiom’s End. “Death of the Author” sparks a lot of feelings, I know, but I prefer to get lost in whatever I am interacting with without being distracted by hypothetical intentions. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about authors and their inspirations, but it can be fun to ignore their personal influence on a text when you are not intentionally reading it critically.
I rarely read Science Fiction. It isn’t a genre that I gravitate toward because of its sheer mass and intimidating “smartness.” That being said, this book has turned me onto to sci-fi more than I thought it would. This book starts off with action and the chaos of a loud and unsettled government. I was immediately invested in Cora’s character because of her unique choices. I fully expected to encounter the reoccurring character type that lives in fear of the other being, or one that fully embraces and learns to “love” the creature of the story. Instead, in a pursuit of truth, Cora experiences a myriad of emotions. This character, that could have easily been sidelined in a book that deals with more visually intriguing characters, is absolutely alive. While reading, I felt like mine and Cora’s feelings were mirrored, and that is a sign of great character writing to me.
Speaking of, Ellis’ crafting of the bond between Cora and the aliens, who are incapable of human emotion and reasoning, is outstanding. I haven’t ever read a book in which a character that brings so little to the table, other than the most basic, unfeeling communication would mean so much to me. Ampersand, as the other main character is named, reveals to Cora that beings from outside of her world are more than just “others” that need to be defended against. There are bigger existences than Earth that are affecting the universe, but humanity is unable to see beyond its own atmosphere. I enjoyed the excitement and drama that came with interacting with something that I didn’t fully understand. I had a lot of fun learning and trying to puzzle out how the alien functioned, its purpose on Earth, the greater issues it was facing, etc.
Ellis includes political reports throughout the book that relay the state of the human world and its happenings. After listening to a few, I figured that I would grow tired of them quickly, but as the stakes grew more extreme, so did the reports. It was distressing in a thrilling way to see humanity stress alongside occurrences that the majority of the public were unware of. To keep it brief, and free of spoilers, Axiom’s End only expands beyond basic communication between Cora and Ampersand and their efforts to survive. The book feels whole at the fifty percent mark, but that doesn’t mean that the other half is a waste by any means. It is a treat. Did I mention that this is the first book in a series? Do with that what you will.
Reading Axiom’s End was just a good time. It ranks as my nineteenth read of my forty-five book challenge and is my sixth five-star read of the year! I think this book is a great place to start for readers new to sci-fi. I read several blurbs stating that this book elegantly includes traditional elements of the genre, so I would run with those positive reviews! I am now deep within the depths of an aggressive book hangover. Give it a shot!
Thanks for reading!