Kalli loses faith in Ellis and fights to free the girls housing the embryos of his dying alien species.
Indian-American teen Kalli has returned to Earth with Ellis, who took her to his home planet, Istriya, in series opener Broken Worlds (2014). They’ve come to save the rest of the runaway girls who, like her, were kidnapped to host Istriyan embryos. The pods the girls are kept in can sustain life for nine days, and time is up. Ellis’ spaceship crashes, leaving them both wounded. This is a minor hiccup in the coming ordeal. One girl wakes up early, a girl with blue hair who wasn’t a runaway. White teen Hadley assumes her parents have left her at a conversion-therapy camp for gay teens—not kidnapped by aliens. Immediately, Kalli assumes the role of Hadley’s protector. She discovers traces of Ellis’ verbindi—an alien device that forces those hosting it to trust Istriyans—still in her own blood, spurring a crisis of faith. More Istriyans appear, bent on saving the species at all cost. Kalli must help Hadley escape, and she can’t trust Ellis to be her savior this time. Nonstop action propels this sequel, leaving no room for character development. Kalli’s sudden mistrust of Ellis is jarring, leaving the central relationship in awkward, underexplored territory. There’s little mystery or romance left to draw readers back for the final installment.
A middle volume only thinly held together by overdone alien tropes. (Science fiction. 13-18)