Only her father and sister know Li’s secret, one that could get her killed: she’s human.
Doomed by wars and climate change, Earth’s dying habitat attracted extraterrestrial visitors, Abdoloreans, who—unable to prevent the human population from self-destructing—ended their misery and remained. Opposed to that policy, Li’s Abdolorean father rescued and raised her with his younger daughter, Zo. Through his efforts, Li’s not only passed, but exceled among her Abdolorean peers, who consider her one of them. (It hasn’t been easy—unlike theirs, her gills are shams; she can’t breathe under water.) As Assessment approaches, Li and her classmates compete for positions in the Abdolorean military, into which all are conscripted. As infantry, squadron, and a few, elite officers, they’ll serve seven-year terms on alien planets. A strong contender for officer, Li’s also buoyed by her intoxicating romance with Ryn, a recent off-planet arrival. Should Ryn learn her secret, Li (though not her father) trusts him to keep it. But unlike Ryn, their classmate/competitor Braxon, who’s been dating Zo, resents Li’s success, and his growing animosity threatens to derail her future. Without breaking new ground, this debut unfolds smoothly. Appealing, if familiar, tropes, character types, and plot devices align with the straightforward style and vocabulary to make this a strong pick for reluctant readers.
This easy-reading sci-fi outing should appeal to fans of Suzanne Weyn and Lisa M. Stasse. (Science fiction. 13-16)