Return to Hera by Suzanne Maxwell

Return to Hera

From the "Noku's Invaders" series
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Earth descendants struggle to survive on an inhospitable planet in Maxwell’s sci-fi sequel to The Rasken (2011).

On the sparsely settled planet Hera, 16-year-old Margole once possessed the technology to teleport from place to place. Using a palm-embedded wonder called the rasken, she wielded power reserved for leaders of the various matriarchal tribes living along the Noku River. The technology is now broken, yet Margole still yearns to hunt and travel the river like the nomadic men who periodically visit the women’s villages. Meanwhile, on 54th-century Earth, marine researchers Karl Trax and Terra Woods discover an ancient spaceship at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Study of the vessel reveals that it once traveled to Hera to start a colony. This prompts a scientific voyage back to learn more about a divergent line of humanity. Karl and Terra are joined by Lt. Seran Talbur and sociologist T. E. Drummers. While first contact between the two groups goes smoothly, the scientists soon discover that the Noku River harbors an invasive population of insect larvae. Large moths hatch and start spreading a deadly parasite among both peoples, precipitating a struggle for survival not seen by the Herans for a thousand years, when Noku’s invaders last appeared. Maxwell (Butterfly Storm, 2011) continues the heroic arc of Margole in this second novel in the series, as she navigates her first disastrous Eros Ceremony (the mating ritual between stationary and nomadic tribes), and then throws in with the off-world scientists. Her reaction to their technology is grounded and endearing; in one tent she finds “smooth, shiny objects, some that spewed light, completely unlike that of the lanterns back home.” As the biological terror of the moths (among other creatures) amplifies and the tragedies pile up, Margole’s instincts to go against the grain prove invaluable to her tribe. Maxwell also broadens the scope of her series with a framing sequence involving manipulative aliens called the Avonades. YA and sci-fi audiences should love this ferociously smart sequel.

The author pushes her cast of Herans and earthlings—along with readers—through an unforgettable emotional crucible.

Publisher: Alaskan Bookshelf
Program: Kirkus Indie
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