Friday, August 11, 2017

Teen/YA Review: Exo

During a couple of road trips this summer, my husband and I enjoyed listening to a YA novel, Exo by Fonda Lee, on audio. Exo is a classic sci fi adventure, fast-paced and suspenseful.

As the novel opens, it’s been 100 mostly peaceful years since Earth became a colony of an alien race called the zhree, after a period now known as the War Era. Since then, the aliens have ruled the planet, based out of various “Ring Belts,” large urban areas centered around strategic points on Earth. Some humans have accepted their position in this new world, working collaboratively with the aliens. Not everyone is so accepting, though, and rebels who call themselves Sapience still fight against the aliens’ rule.

Donovan Reyes is not one of those rebels. His father holds the lofty position of Prime Liaison within the alien government, and Donovan has been groomed to also hold a respected position one day. At the tender age of five, Donovan’s father had him hardened, imbedded with alien technology that provides armor, called an exocel, built into his human body. Now seventeen, Donovan works in the security force as a soldier/police officer, keeping the peace and looking for Sapience rebels.

Out on patrol one day, Donovan and his partner and friend, Jet, come across some rebel propaganda and get a lead on a home where Sapience are said to gather. Something goes terribly wrong in the ensuing fight, though, and the rebels actually capture and kidnap Donovan. Hours later, when they discover he is the Prime Liaison’s own son, they figure they have a key bargaining chip, but the cold leader says he will not negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son’s life.

That’s the basic set-up in the beginning of the novel, but this story is filled with unexpected twists and turns around every corner, and the conflict between the Sapience and the ruling class of zhree and humans is complicated, both strategically and morally.  In this way, the story reminded us a bit of the TV show Colony (which we love), though the details of the plot and setting are entirely original. The specifics of the alien technology are fascinating, but the ethical questions are very human and relevant to our own world. There is plenty of action and tension in this sci fi thriller that wraps up the main story but leaves plenty of questions still to be answered in a sequel.

384 pages, Scholastic

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You can listen to a sample of the audio from Audible at the Amazon link below:

by Timothy Francis LearyHardcover


  1. My brother always read sci-fi when we were growing up, but I couldn't ever really get into it. Dystopian is as close as I can get

    1. I'm not all that into classic sci fi, either, Helen, but my husband and son are. Like you, I mostly enjoy sci fi that is dystopian or post-apocalyptic or anything to do with time travel! Stuff set in the real world with sci fi elements. I gave my husband a choice of novels for our trips and he chose this one...and I did enjoy it - it's a good story & well-written.