Hurray, work finally calmed down enough again for me to read a library book!
After the events of the first book in the series (that you should really read before picking up this one,) our heroine Octavia is on the run from the rest of the humans of N’Terra. She finds refuge with the Faloii, the native inhabitants of the planet, who are harboring both refugees and secrets that will gradually be uncovered as the book heads to its curiously moving ending. It’s the kind of ending that feels complete even as you want to know what happens next: I’d love to read more books in the series, but if it ends right here, I won’t feel at all unsatisfied (tho very much want to read more of Olivia A Cole’s work.)
I can’t really talk about the plot without giving away a ton of spoilers, as so much happens. What I can say is that the predatory ecosystem of the planet finally made sense to me in this book, and the strictures against meat-eating took on even more significance. I was less enthused about the way the Faloii dismissed intent, but I suppose their capacity for tolerance was understandably limited at that point in the novel. Sometimes, I didn’t really understand why Octavia made the choices she did as to where to go next on her journey; it was a bit chaotic, but in a good way. That said, it was a great journey, especially with the subtle way Ms Cole draws parallels between what Octavia encounters and the way colonizers have historically engaged with new lands and peoples. The book is also an excellent exploration of racial guilt and belonging and the many tools oppressors use to keep dissenters in line, all clothed in a YA sci-fi novel.
If you want genuinely inventive sci-fi that boldly explores the nature of colonialism and oppression, this is definitely the series for you, as it is for me. I’m hoping for a sequel, but would be happy just to be able to read more of Ms Cole’s writing. She’s a fresh talent with a lot to say about the structures of power, and a pretty darn good sci-fi author to boot.