The second volume in Laporta’s (Heart of Earth, 2014) YA series about a young alien defending Earth from galactic conquerors.
The summer before her senior year of high school begins, Lena Gabrilowicz is off the southeastern coast of Alaska, studying humpback whales. Professor Cray and his grad student daughter, Jocelyn, help Lena as she indulges her love of marine biology and tries to forget that, last year, an alien race called the Vrukaari invaded Earth (in the series’ previous installment). Luckily, an eight-tentacled Snaldrialooran named Ixdahan Daherek had been posing as her classmate, Derek, and helped thwart the attack. It turned out that he’d downloaded and sold classified files on his home planet and had been sentenced to Earth (and transmogrified into a human body) as punishment. In this book, he’s back on his home world, working for the Snaldrialooran Security Agency, disguised as a Vrukaari on Vrukaar Prime. The aliens there are suspected of possessing armor that could make its fleet invincible. Ixdahan also finds that other aliens resembling the Onkendren are trading with the Vrukaari. The Onkendren allegedly developed “a link to the laws of physics, enabling them to manipulate space, time, energy and matter”; they vanished, but not before burying a series of artifacts on various worlds. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Lena finds that the whales’ singing is invading her mind, as are images of an ancient amphora; can thoughts of her alien friend Derek be far behind? Laporta’s second foray into YA sci-fi is trimmed of the teenage shenanigans that made its predecessor so charming. Lena’s friends Callie Ann and Vance return, but are instead a part of an expanding space opera, which proves to be a feast of intriguing concepts. For example, the Vrukaari evolved from eellike creatures who had the ability to deliver a “simple shock,” and now they possess “an unusually dense electromagnetic field—guided by primitive mental impulses.” Newcomers to the genre and adult fans of classic sci-fi novels, such as David Brin’s Startide Rising (1984), will love hearing whales talk and adventuring in a galaxy where humanoids are rare. Once again, Laporta opts for a dire, high-stakes finale, maximizing the emotional thrust of his narrative.
An engrossing YA sci-fi sequel, in which ideas share the stage with the cast.