Picking up directly after the events in A Conspiracy of Stars (2018), this volume follows Octavia in her search for answers and her discovery of yet more questions.
After losing her mother and uncovering the sinister plans of N’Terra’s most influential and extremist leader, Octavia flees her home, enduring another shock when she encounters her supposedly dead grandparents. Safe in the bewildering and amazing Faloii city of Mbekenkanush, Octavia discovers over 100 humans—Acclimates who left N’Terra to learn from the Faloii. Their peace is shattered, however, when one of Dr. Albatur’s weaponized experiments attacks and the Faloii become aware of N’Terra’s violations of Faloiv’s delicate natural order—crimes that risk open war not just with the Faloii, but with the planet itself. Octavia is frantic to stem the tide of conflict, but every move she makes only seems to unearth more treacherous secrets and deeper connections between the N’Terrans and the Faloii stretching back long before the humans ever crashed onto the planet. As with the first book, readers who hunger for immersive worldbuilding and for the moral ambiguity that is native to sci-fi as a genre will be well-sated here. Plot development that initially teeters toward a colonizer-savior narrative (much like Avatar) frenetically swings into greater, if still anthropocentric, complexity toward its conclusion. Octavia and several other characters are black; ethnicity is unclear for other humans.
Readers will eagerly barrel over the edge of this cliffhanger. (Science fiction. 13-18)