A human teen and an alien invader make an unlikely and potentially dangerous connection.
When the spaceships came to Earth, there was confusion and then conflict—large numbers of humans died and the Ilori took over. Seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker managed to hold onto a trove of forbidden books, but her mother is falling into alcoholism and her father receives injections that make him an obedient Ilori servant. Lending books from her secret library makes Ellie feel less helpless even though she risks death for her transgression. Morris (or M0Rr1S) is a labmade, created to appear human and part of a unit sent to Earth to prepare for the true Ilori, who are susceptible to the Earth’s pollution. Although his father is a high-ranking true Ilori, disdainful of feelings, Morris harbors a secret love of human music. He uses his knowledge of Ellie’s secret library to convince her to collect music for him, and their bond deepens when he saves Ellie from execution. The two set out on a harrowing cross-country escape while Morris plots to thwart his father. There is much to enjoy in this story featuring a complex black teen: Ellie is bright, resourceful, and coping with issues with body image and anxiety. Morris and his family are intriguing. The depiction of the world has many similarities to today’s society, and the overlay of speculative aspects fits seamlessly.
A promising debut that begs for a sequel. (Science fiction. 12-18)