I’ve been on a sci-fi binge recently and have absolutely no regrets about picking up Exo by Fonda Lee. Everyone talks about The Green Bone Saga books but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Exo on Bookstagram or Twitter, so here we are.
YA scifi is totally hit or miss and I only have good things to say about Exo. Content and theme wise I’m all about this one both as a sci-fi and YA book! (If you see Categories – I also gave this one credit as a thriller because it’s more action than ideology based, although there’s plenty of both).
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Exo
- Series: Exo #1 (Duology)
- Author: Fonda Lee
- Publisher & Release: Scholastic Press, January 2017
- Length: 384
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for Sci-fi thriller and YA fans
Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:
It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.
When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one…
Excellent synopsis, ok here we go. So Earth is now a few generations post invasion and governed by an alien race. Humans are part of the government and enjoy many rights, they have been given advanced alien technology in including these fused Exocels, protection from other alien races, and many other benefits
There’s a faction of humans that didn’t benefit so much though and have turned into a terrorist organization called Sapience. Donovan’s security patrols are primarily concerned with rooting these terrorists out, although *most* are smalltime offenders.
Long story short, things go badly and Donovan gets thrown into the world of Sapience. He has literal and figurative bombshells thrown at him and learns both sides of the war. He sees the face of “evil” and ultimately faces legitimate moral conflicts involving family, loyalty, the alien races, and the big picture of Earth’s survival.
The ideas of nature vs nurture and natural vs unnatural are huge themes in this book. The main character has significant life changing events that allows him to see both sides of the story and I think this is great for YA readers. Both of Donovan’s parents had terrible choices to make and also made terrible choices, and isn’t it eventually the child’s burden to sort this out and make their own choices? Yes, and Lee NAILS this
There’s also first contact from the perspective of the leader of the alien race. This is an interesting choice and not done so frequently. He comes to survey Earth and has never seen humans before, even though the aliens on Earth have grown up with humans and protect/care for them. The leader is like “ew, the hell are these little squishy things and why do they have Exos? Do we need to save these things?”
Another thing I appreciate is the LANGUAGE! World appropriate slang that is based off the Zhree (alien) language is a great touch. Tell me again why SFF books need modern day swearing, especially in YA … they don’t!
Lastly a note on the characters – I liked Donovan and Jet too. Jet is a saint and Donovan is lucky to have him as a best friend. I do think the little romance could have been cut out but it was clean and gave the characters incentive to bridge the gap between their politics.
Overall: fast moving plot, plotting, frequent action, great characters, micro and macro threats, family… This is a really solid Young Adult book and I think some adults may enjoy it as well.