Monday, July 27, 2020

Review: Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis

Axiom's End
Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 21st, 2020
Hardcover. 384 pages

About Axiom's End:

"Truth is a human right.  

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."

Axiom's End is a first contact book not quite like any I've ever read before, and I love the new approach Ellis took with this type of story.

Most of us have probably read or watched some form of a First Contact story at some point in our lives, and most of those tend to follow somewhat similar general ideas about human reactions, hostilities, and so on. Axiom's End diverged a bit from this path by introducing a First Contact experience on Earth that introduced some new possibilities about what aliens could be like, not necessarily physically, but mentally and socially. I don't want to give away about what to expect, but I will say that I really appreciated the attitude and approach Ellis attributed to the alien beings in this book because it took me a little by surprise in a few places in a way that made me think "Huh, yeah, that's a good point."

Axiom's End not only tackles the big First Contact topic, but it also tackles an issue that is extremely relevant to issues occurring today, such as the right of the public to information and truth from the government. In Axiom's End, Cora's father is a sort of whistleblower figure (think Edward Snowden style) about alien contact and exploration, which has also made him a rather wanted figure by the government and an extraordinarily controversial one--which has also made life difficult for Cora, her mother, aunt, and two siblings. 

The main protagonist, Cora, is one of those characters that I never really particularly connected with, but that still managed to hold my interest and develop a level of feelings for her that made me want to continue following her journey. Cora's life hasn't been the easiest, but she has a certain level of dogged resilience that keeps her going and gives her a strong personality. A big portion of this book is focused on Cora's characters and her relationship with someone else, known as Ampersand (you'll meet them soon enough in the story!), and I think this focus was really the driver of the story. Yes, there's a big focus on the aliens and how humans will react to and handle that, but there's also a big component that is about communication and connecting with those around us, whoever they are or wherever they're from. This sentiment really drove a lot of the story in a lot of different ways, and I think Ellis did a great job conveying that.

Axiom's End is set in our world, but back in 2007. I thought this time period was very carefully and cleverly chosen because it really seemed to fit everything going on. Ellis was careful to include carefully picked references and nods to popular culture of the time, as well as making sure to establish political and economic considerations of the time period that worked well with the story.  

The only drawbacks I had with Axiom's End were a few areas where the info-dumping, which came in the form of complex scientific ideas and theories most often, was a bit overmuch and the fact that I just didn't quite connect with the story or characters as much as I'd have liked. There's enough to keep engagement and create a compelling story, but my heart just didn't feel as into this book, which sort of left me feeling like I was at a small distance from everything going on most of the time. Neither of these are deal-breaking issues, but still important enough that I wanted to make sure I mentioned them. 

Overall, I've given Axiom's End four stars! I just recently discovered that this is going to be a series, which I'm glad for because I am eager to see what's coming next. If you enjoy First Contact stories, aliens, conspiracies, or just some good sci-fi, then be sure to check out Axiom's End


  1. I've been very curious about this book. I think I was offered a review copy but I just had too much to read and couldn't fit it in. But I'm happy to see your four star rating:-)

  2. I like a good first contact story and this one sounds really good. I also like the sound of the secrecy element and the fact that they've been here for decades- that sounds like a fun angle. I'm going to look out for this one.