The Lesson
THE LESSON explores the nature of belief, the impact of colonialism, and asks how far are we willing to go for progress? Breaking ground as one of the first science fiction novels set in the Virgin Islands, THE LESSON is not only a thought-provoking literary work, delving deeply into allegorical themes of colonialism, but also vividly draws the community of Charlotte Amalie, wherefrom the author hails.An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super-advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

The Lesson Details

TitleThe Lesson
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 18th, 2019
PublisherBlackstone Publishing
ISBN-139781538584644
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Adult, Speculative Fiction

The Lesson Review

  • Sylvain Neuvel
    January 1, 1970
    Cadwell Turnbull paints a stunningly intricate portrait of humanity, capturing hopes and dreams, flaws and failings with remarkable depth and texture. The Lesson is a blast to read and a meaningful exploration of the bearing of colonialism and the perils of human ambition.
    more
  • Gail (The Knight Reader)
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely LOVED this book!I was so thrilled that The Lesson was set in the Caribbean I immediately reached out to the Publishers and author to review it in advance of its June 2019 release. I was so happy that I did!The Lesson is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands and is a story that unfolds around different islanders who live amicably among The Ynaa, Earth's newest visitors who just happen to be alien lifeforms. The story also follows one of the alien leaders, Mera, on her mission to bridge the I absolutely LOVED this book!I was so thrilled that The Lesson was set in the Caribbean I immediately reached out to the Publishers and author to review it in advance of its June 2019 release. I was so happy that I did!The Lesson is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands and is a story that unfolds around different islanders who live amicably among The Ynaa, Earth's newest visitors who just happen to be alien lifeforms. The story also follows one of the alien leaders, Mera, on her mission to bridge the gap between humans and Ynaa, as an intermediate of sorts. Unsurprisingly, there are challenges that must be overcome on both sides and this makes for an engrossing story.Don't let the word "Alien" fool you. This book is so much more than Sci-Fi, I am at a loss for words. The story flows, the characters are developed, and everything just fits together so nicely I just felt entranced. I joke that I wanted to skip work to finish it but the truth is The Lesson was an addictive and fluid read, I almost tried. I must give credit to Turnbull for setting this story in the Caribbean. I almost feel like the Caribbean setting was designed for this story. Turnbull did not steer away from our accents, slang, history or culture and in turn I think it helped him to create The Lesson. I am wishing for a sequel but as a standalone, it is superb ( and this is coming from a person who isn't the biggest fan of Sci-Fi). I encourage everyone to grab this book come June 2019!-----------------------------------------------------As stated previously, I received an e-ARC via Blackstone Publishing for an honest review. Many thanks to the Publisher and author for the same.
    more
  • Thomas Wagner
    January 1, 1970
    [3.5 stars] First contact stories in science fiction have been used for decades to explore cultural and anthropological themes. More than anything, I would say SF writers use alien contact as a kind of emotional tonic, a way to relieve humanity’s existential distress at the very real likelihood we are either alone in the universe, or so far away from any other advanced, spacefaring species that contact with them will be effectively impossible before both we and the aliens become, in the natural [3.5 stars] First contact stories in science fiction have been used for decades to explore cultural and anthropological themes. More than anything, I would say SF writers use alien contact as a kind of emotional tonic, a way to relieve humanity’s existential distress at the very real likelihood we are either alone in the universe, or so far away from any other advanced, spacefaring species that contact with them will be effectively impossible before both we and the aliens become, in the natural course of time, extinct. First contact stories can be scary, exciting, action-packed, dramatic and serious, or satirical, and SF writers have shown remarkable invention in spinning endlessly imaginative variations on the theme.One of these variations involves presenting the aliens as mirrors to ourselves, and that’s what Cadwell Turnbull does in his debut novel, The Lesson. It’s an unusual and mostly gentle story that nonetheless has a distinct apocalyptic inevitability, and though there are times Turnbull keeps some of his ideas perhaps a little too close to the vest for the story’s overall good, The Lesson is a story that should not be missed by readers who embraced such books as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven or even Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End.It’s all about colonialism, basically. The Lesson takes place on the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean, Turnbull’s own birthplace, and right away this piqued my interest, as I’ve read more than enough white-America-centered stories of alien visitation and invasion to last a lifetime. We meet a handful of perfectly ordinary characters managing their daily lives in the two weeks prior to the aliens’ arrival. Jackson is a college instructor who is midlifing so hard that even he is embarrassed by what a walking cliché he’s become. His wife Aubrey responds to the general malaise of their marriage by rekindling an old flame with her coworker Alice. And their teenage daughter Patrice is heading off to Pittsburgh for college, much to the dismay of Derrick, her childhood friend and semi-serious boyfriend, who lives downstairs in the same house with his grandmother and kid sister, Lee.It’s all boringly normal until (continued...)
    more
  • Amy Imogene Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Aliens and a discussion about colonialism? Sign me UP. Thanks to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't sure what to expect from The Lesson. Alien invasion I suppose? Regardless, I was lost from the beginning. I couldn't relate to the characters or the plot. Unfortunately, this story fell flat for me. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Lelia Nebeker
    January 1, 1970
    A speculative alien invasion novel set in the Virgin Islands--and it has a large contingent of female characters who actually do things! I know that sounds like a low bar, but I really did admire the dynamic characters Turnbull created. The story is well paced, and I loved how the aliens (who inhabit humanoid bodies) were incorporated into society, or rather, how they affect society. Honestly, this book was right up my alley, and will definitely be recommending it to everyone upon its release. A A speculative alien invasion novel set in the Virgin Islands--and it has a large contingent of female characters who actually do things! I know that sounds like a low bar, but I really did admire the dynamic characters Turnbull created. The story is well paced, and I loved how the aliens (who inhabit humanoid bodies) were incorporated into society, or rather, how they affect society. Honestly, this book was right up my alley, and will definitely be recommending it to everyone upon its release. Add it to your TBR now!
    more
  • Emma Osborne
    January 1, 1970
    I adore this book - it deals with such big questions, and yet feels so intimate. The family dynamics are rich and complex, and the Ynaa are fascinating in their similarities and differences to humans. A must-read. (Disclosure: Cadwell and I studied together at Clarion West)
    more
  • Janelle
    January 1, 1970
    A fantastic book about aliens! With compelling characters, an underlying sense of dread, social commentary, and mystery! I sincerely hope there is a sequel.
  • DJ Arruda
    January 1, 1970
    In Turnbull's debut novel he gives us a compelling and engaging character driven story that focuses on the humanity despite the backdrop of an alien presence. Through the intricately woven, yet distinct viewpoints of a family's already present discord compounded by the aliens’ arrival, he gives us a diverse cast who all deal with their personal traumas in their own ways, yet together link an emotionally captivating look at how change shapes us inside and out. His rendering of St. Thomas is visce In Turnbull's debut novel he gives us a compelling and engaging character driven story that focuses on the humanity despite the backdrop of an alien presence. Through the intricately woven, yet distinct viewpoints of a family's already present discord compounded by the aliens’ arrival, he gives us a diverse cast who all deal with their personal traumas in their own ways, yet together link an emotionally captivating look at how change shapes us inside and out. His rendering of St. Thomas is visceral and thorough, and I can so easily picture the locations described and feel like I could navigate them myself were I ever to visit the island thanks to his efforts. The fleshed out setting and structure of the story make the inevitability of the climax even more tragic, but the events feel earned and consequential, not forced or out of place. The pacing is excellent, as the characters’ journeys go on simultaneously, and the focus on humanity while dealing with complex themes of love, loss, existence, and violence, among others, all come together wonderfully. A page turner, especially when the climax begins, a heart wrenching culmination of divergent arcs and many characters. My only lament is the unexplored, tantalizing bits of lore about the Ynaa, the wonderful character of Mera illuminating them in a brilliant way, and I’m left wanting to see what happens next for these characters after the ending. For fans of sci-fi and human stories alike, Turnbull confidently makes his presence known in the genre, drawing on our shared humanity to deliver topical commentary on society and the relationships that get us through the day. All I can say is I want a sequel, or at least more of this world/characters, and only wish there was already more to dive into.
    more
  • Gabi
    January 1, 1970
    I get what the author was trying to do here. The alien race Ynaa invading and taking over the Virgin Islands is an obvious comment to colonialism and an overall interesting idea. So the basis for a good story is there, I just don't feel as though the author truly pulled it off.Many parts of the novel were confusing and disjointed, and didn't quite fit back together for the reader in the way the author likely believed they would. Another thing that really disconnected the story from the reader wa I get what the author was trying to do here. The alien race Ynaa invading and taking over the Virgin Islands is an obvious comment to colonialism and an overall interesting idea. So the basis for a good story is there, I just don't feel as though the author truly pulled it off.Many parts of the novel were confusing and disjointed, and didn't quite fit back together for the reader in the way the author likely believed they would. Another thing that really disconnected the story from the reader was the lack of effort the author put into fleshing out his characters. There wasn't enough characterization for many of the novel's main players (except for Mera, she was superb) and therefore the events of the story didn't have as much of an emotional impact as they could have.The author did do a good job representing different groups of people that are usually underrepresented in common literature, such as the community of the Virgin Islands and the LGBTQ+ community, which was a definite strength of this novel.Overall, "The Lesson" had a lot of promise, yet ended up being rather underwhelming.
    more
  • Ari Janoff
    January 1, 1970
    "The universe is bigger than you know. You are bigger than you know. There is no armor big enough to save you. Nowhere. Ever."I really enjoyed this book! I knew I would like it because I love sci-fi and it calls to my already pretty political leanings. There was an intriguing lack of world building regarding the Ynaa, which gave the book more of a literary feel as opposed to pure sci-fi. Some of the chapters are shockingly violent and horrifying in the most brilliant, Bradbury-an way. I also lov "The universe is bigger than you know. You are bigger than you know. There is no armor big enough to save you. Nowhere. Ever."I really enjoyed this book! I knew I would like it because I love sci-fi and it calls to my already pretty political leanings. There was an intriguing lack of world building regarding the Ynaa, which gave the book more of a literary feel as opposed to pure sci-fi. Some of the chapters are shockingly violent and horrifying in the most brilliant, Bradbury-an way. I also loved the philosophical elements woven throughout, between the cycles of violence, the allegory for colonialism, the systemic effect on a minority population, and the Buddhist inner musings of Mera. This novel is an excellent additional voice in the intertextual conversation that has been going on for decades, echoing Morrison, Butler, Everett, (and so many more that I have yet to read).
    more
  • Jonah ❤️LIBROCUBICULARIST❤️
    January 1, 1970
    3 starsIt's okay and fairly entertaining for a Sci-Fi but there are so many undeveloped characters and I am still trying to figure out what the actual "Lesson" is. This is the 3rd book I got approved by Blackstone Publishing and I expected more. I guess this is not the kind of Sci-Fi I was expecting. *** I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
    more
  • Jill Criswell
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully-written, thought-provoking novel full of flawed characters who were lost long before the aliens landed, and fueled by a rich sense of place. The author paints a portrait of what it means to be a local in modern-day St. Thomas, as well as giving poignant glimpses into the island's colonialist past. Successfully straddles the line between literary and speculative fiction in ways that are reminiscent of Octavia Butler's "Kindred" and Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go."
    more
  • Brittany Holcomb
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Here are my thoughts. Almost the first half of the book is a little slow, consisting of family drama and character building. Unfortunately, I didn't feel all that connected to the characters the author built after the story jumps 5 years into the future. But perhaps that's the intended purpose, as all of the characters have experienced a life changing event. The story gets much more interesting as we begin to l I received this book as an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Here are my thoughts. Almost the first half of the book is a little slow, consisting of family drama and character building. Unfortunately, I didn't feel all that connected to the characters the author built after the story jumps 5 years into the future. But perhaps that's the intended purpose, as all of the characters have experienced a life changing event. The story gets much more interesting as we begin to learn about the invaders and see the anger and animosity building. I thought Mera was fascinating and it was incredible to read about her past as a slave and the things she experienced. Her experiences were so heartbreaking and it helps you understand why she is so much more human than the other Ynaa. This story is sort of an example of colonization that is going wrong. It was devastating near the end and I wanted to know what happened to Mera and Derrick. I loved Lee and I hope she heals more every day. It's a short but interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes stories with aliens, as well as stories with interesting characters.
    more
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this!
  • Cullen
    January 1, 1970
    DNF just before the 50% mark. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC. I thought the premise was pretty interesting but the characters all fell very flat for me, and it seemed like 80% of the focus of the content was on the sexual desires/love lives of all the characters, with the fact that there is an alien invasion going on barely fleshed out. Maybe it got better in the second half but I couldn't make myself continue. I was also constantly distracted by the very low quality of the NetGalley-provided eB DNF just before the 50% mark. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC. I thought the premise was pretty interesting but the characters all fell very flat for me, and it seemed like 80% of the focus of the content was on the sexual desires/love lives of all the characters, with the fact that there is an alien invasion going on barely fleshed out. Maybe it got better in the second half but I couldn't make myself continue. I was also constantly distracted by the very low quality of the NetGalley-provided eBook, which had line breaks in the middle of sentences all throughout.
    more
  • Ashley Solomon
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who may not always gravitate toward the genre of Science Fiction, I was immediately intrigued and pulled into the story and characters of The Lesson. Turnbell introduces us to characters who are varied and yet so familiar. We begin to know and feel empathetic to the personalities of each person, even before the event occurs. We then feel transported into each story, as each character grapples with the event in their own different ways. A novel about an alien invasion, packs in a stunn As someone who may not always gravitate toward the genre of Science Fiction, I was immediately intrigued and pulled into the story and characters of The Lesson. Turnbell introduces us to characters who are varied and yet so familiar. We begin to know and feel empathetic to the personalities of each person, even before the event occurs. We then feel transported into each story, as each character grapples with the event in their own different ways. A novel about an alien invasion, packs in a stunning amount of humanity. Thoroughly enjoyed The Lesson and I know others will too!
    more
  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine an island in the Virgin Islands where life seems peaceful and the ocean breezes sway the palm trees. Now imagine the Ambassador who lives on the island and rules it fairly even if she seems odd from time to time. The reason for this is simple - she is an alien and along with the other Ynaa on the island or out on the ship in the ocean are on a research mission. Life is good as long as everyone stays calm and does as they are told but, as soon as a young boy is killed and the hint of rebe Imagine an island in the Virgin Islands where life seems peaceful and the ocean breezes sway the palm trees. Now imagine the Ambassador who lives on the island and rules it fairly even if she seems odd from time to time. The reason for this is simple - she is an alien and along with the other Ynaa on the island or out on the ship in the ocean are on a research mission. Life is good as long as everyone stays calm and does as they are told but, as soon as a young boy is killed and the hint of rebellion is in the air it does not stay that way. This debut combines the thread of colonialism with a classic tale of an alien invasion. It starts off soft as a warm island breeze and finishes as a hurricane. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
    more
  • Jeri Dube
    January 1, 1970
    The Lesson is a complex fabric of a story, capturing the life, struggles, hopes and dreams of a family on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Cadwell paints intricate and vivid characters, living in equally clear and fresh environs. Their lives are presented in an engaging way, weeks before the arrival of an alien spaceship that parks itself over the island. The reader is already invested in the characters and their lives when the ship arrives, drawing one into the story even deeper as we wonder The Lesson is a complex fabric of a story, capturing the life, struggles, hopes and dreams of a family on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Cadwell paints intricate and vivid characters, living in equally clear and fresh environs. Their lives are presented in an engaging way, weeks before the arrival of an alien spaceship that parks itself over the island. The reader is already invested in the characters and their lives when the ship arrives, drawing one into the story even deeper as we wonder how we would handle this same situation. The author paints a complex and compelling story about one alien in particular, one who has been on earth for hundreds of years, trying to learn about humans and prepare her Ynaa colleagues for an arrival. The first half of the book centers largely on the people in a specific family and how they are reacting and adjusting to the aliens. The second half of the book turns to the alien woman and her experiences through time here on earth. The tension builds as it becomes apparent to the reader that these two forces will ultimately clash. The author, who grew up in the Caribbean and whose family still live there, does a masterful job of presenting the human story of the family whose ancestors had arrived as slaves. Just as they seem to have made some form of peace with life on the island, the aliens arrive, bringing back a torrent of mixed emotions related to slavery and freedom. The Ynaa claim to arrive in peace, and slowly offer technologies to the populace to help solve their problems, but mistrust remains. This is a masterful work of fiction with a science fiction component that is important but not overwhelming. It is not a laser-shooting antigravity scifi story – it is a deep work with a wide range of themes, one of which happens to involve aliens that we don’t understand. I expect The Lesson to become a classic work to be studied by students of writing and sociology. It stands apart from the bulk of conventional science fiction by virtue of its richness, complex characters, and evolving relationships within a family and between humans and aliens. Although I finished the book, I continue to think about each of the characters, where they will go next, and how I might have behaved in the same situation. The book leaves an impact, the mark of an excellent author.
    more
  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    The Lesson by Cadwell TurnbullAvailable June 18, 2019The Lesson is a dark and twisting novel about how those that are most powerful can so easily justify putting their desires ahead of those less powerful than them. The island of St. Thomas has a long history of groups invading and conquering but none have been as deadly or feared as the Ynaa. Trading advanced technology and medicines for the right to live on St. Thomas, the Ynaa don’t see themselves as invaders. Coming from a dangerous and war- The Lesson by Cadwell TurnbullAvailable June 18, 2019The Lesson is a dark and twisting novel about how those that are most powerful can so easily justify putting their desires ahead of those less powerful than them. The island of St. Thomas has a long history of groups invading and conquering but none have been as deadly or feared as the Ynaa. Trading advanced technology and medicines for the right to live on St. Thomas, the Ynaa don’t see themselves as invaders. Coming from a dangerous and war-torn world, the Ynaa want only to study the humans on the island and live amongst the people. But when the Ynaa officials excuse the violent and deadly outbursts of their fellow Ynaa, the humans have had enough. The human governments are unconcerned about the deaths of a few islanders, there has been far too many medical and engineering advancements to justify fighting against the Ynaa. But there is evidence that the Ynaa have been on this earth for far longer than they claimed. Photographs and folktales of incredible strength and miracle cures are more common than people realize. When another interaction with the Ynaa leads to the death of an islander, conflicts begin all over the island and no one is safe. Dark, gripping, and powerfully written, The Lesson is a page turning thriller of violence and hope. I found it to be an interesting and engaging take on alien invasion. This is the first novel I’ve read about an alien invasion taking place on an island. Usually it’s New York City or Los Angeles-some major American city. It was quite refreshing to have the setting as St. Thomas and to see the difference a place makes in how the characters interact with the opposing force. Highly enjoyed this one and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves a good sci-fi thriller. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions and mistakes are my own.
    more
  • Janée
    January 1, 1970
    Turnbull begins the tale innocuously enough. Aliens, (aka) Ynna arrive on the Virgin Islands peacefully. The author describes encounters of the first, third, and (maybe?) the fourth kind throughout the novel. Some of the novel seems a little nebulous to me. I don’t have numerous experiences with science fiction, but The Lesson is enjoyable. Also, the visitors are initially welcomed rather matter- of- factly because they will share great advancements in technology, science, and medicine. Peace do Turnbull begins the tale innocuously enough. Aliens, (aka) Ynna arrive on the Virgin Islands peacefully. The author describes encounters of the first, third, and (maybe?) the fourth kind throughout the novel. Some of the novel seems a little nebulous to me. I don’t have numerous experiences with science fiction, but The Lesson is enjoyable. Also, the visitors are initially welcomed rather matter- of- factly because they will share great advancements in technology, science, and medicine. Peace does not last long during the Ynn tenure on earth; there is a plethora of conflicts—most of them tense understated, though deaths occur when the Ynna, are angered and insulted. A powerful attractive female Ynna, Mera, acts as the Ambassador, whose mission is to ensure the differing life forms co-exist. During their time on the Virgin Islands, the Ynn continuously remind there is a “lesson” to be learned by the humans; however, “the lesson” is never overtly revealed. After several years, the Ynna’s sporadic violence angers the humans, for they’re welcome to voice a complaint to the Ambassador, but she does little to appease them. Islanders eventually revolt because of several murdered Islanders whom they believe receive no justice, and the Ynna react with a large-scale retaliation before the Aliens depart. Turnbull appears to be writing an extended metaphor about colonization of indigenous people and the effects of that system. Only a few agnostic native characters accept the Ynna as aliens and do not really fear them, while most of the others, instilled with strong religious values, come to see them as demons and devils. There are strong female characters, both youthful and elderly. The action is well paced for it sucked me in from the beginning. What about “the lesson?” each reader will discover his/her own lesson. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
    more
  • Dan Trefethen
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story of colonialism, oppression, and repeated subjugation of one people over another. It's also a story of the resilience of family, both by blood and by choice.Set entirely on the U.S. Virgin Islands, in the near future an alien spacecraft parks over a harbor and offers incremental updates in technology in exchange for – well, their motives are obscure. Their interactions with the islanders become more fraught, and any act of violence against them is met with immediate and gruesome v This is a story of colonialism, oppression, and repeated subjugation of one people over another. It's also a story of the resilience of family, both by blood and by choice.Set entirely on the U.S. Virgin Islands, in the near future an alien spacecraft parks over a harbor and offers incremental updates in technology in exchange for – well, their motives are obscure. Their interactions with the islanders become more fraught, and any act of violence against them is met with immediate and gruesome violence in return.The author moves the storyline frequently between characters and timelines, requiring reorientation by the reader. However, this serves to piece the story together in a mosaic, so that we often don't understand the full meaning of a scene until a later segment in the story. This lack of full understanding is reflected in the relationship between the islanders and the aliens.An early chapter, “A History of Invasions”, tells that before Europeans discovered America, native tribes were successively subjugated by other tribes arriving on the islands. The greatest subjugation and eradication occurred from European colonization, of course, but then the aliens exact another terrible price in their turn.As with many good books, the reader is left to ask what is learned from all this. Is the lesson the aliens think they are teaching a valid one? Do the humans offer their own lesson that the aliens simply refuse to see because they think the humans are beneath them? A thoughtful book about a part of U.S. culture not often examined in literature.
    more
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 StarsI was intrigued when I read this book was science fiction set in the Caribbean and then sold when I saw that Turnbull seeks to make a statement about colonialism; I love when science fiction is used to explore very real social justice issues. In The Lesson, an alien race known as the Ynaa arrive to the U.S. Virgin Islands with the promise to exchange advanced technology for cohabitation so they may conduct "research." It is the cohabitation, however, that proves to be the difficulty wit 4.5 StarsI was intrigued when I read this book was science fiction set in the Caribbean and then sold when I saw that Turnbull seeks to make a statement about colonialism; I love when science fiction is used to explore very real social justice issues. In The Lesson, an alien race known as the Ynaa arrive to the U.S. Virgin Islands with the promise to exchange advanced technology for cohabitation so they may conduct "research." It is the cohabitation, however, that proves to be the difficulty with the Ynaa's heavy-handed response to even the slightest provocation. The Lesson is what I would call literary science fiction. Turnbull's writing is beautiful and intelligent. His descriptions of the homes and roads and plants in the Virgin Islands make you feel like you've been there - and if you've never been there you will certainly want to go. I was also incredibly impressed with his ability to write complex, believable women, which is not a talent a lot of male authors possess. Turnbull does an excellent job exploring themes ranging from colonialism (and the racism inherent to colonialism), the absentee "parentage" of the United States, and religious doctrine. My only minor critique is that The Lesson has several POV characters and interweaving plot lines to keep track of, very nearly doing "too much" for a sub-300 page debut novel. That being said, the story works in the end, and I can't think of a single thing that should have been left on the editing room floor.
    more
  • Jo Ladzinski
    January 1, 1970
    Listened to the audiobookThis isn't your everyday first contact novel. Taking place in the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Lesson tells the story of a community who meets an alien race called the Ynaa who quickly assimilate among them. Among our cast is a teacher, a pair of students, a divorcee, and other "boring" characters whose lives get turned upside by the new visitors.I loved how Turnbull handled the community's curiosity and fear about their new visitors. Though human-looking and benevolent for Listened to the audiobookThis isn't your everyday first contact novel. Taking place in the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Lesson tells the story of a community who meets an alien race called the Ynaa who quickly assimilate among them. Among our cast is a teacher, a pair of students, a divorcee, and other "boring" characters whose lives get turned upside by the new visitors.I loved how Turnbull handled the community's curiosity and fear about their new visitors. Though human-looking and benevolent for the most part, the Ynaa can exact terrible violence. One of my favorite sequences is told in flashbacks. It's used as an amazing vehicle for displaying the code switching between a variety of communities and societies and it is executed with such finesse. In addition, the way nuggets of truth are strewn throughout the novel serve as a great vehicle for grounding the story and also weaving together its many themes. I particularly connected to a bit about filling your own holes by creating them in others, and Patrice's reflection on her parents' divorce blew me away. The book isn't long and it covers an impressive range of emotion with nuance.If you love something a bit more literary and introspective, but need that science fiction element, what are you even doing, please read this book.
    more
  • Carina Gonzalez
    January 1, 1970
    The Ynaa, an alien species, arrive on The Virgin Islands to teach its inhabitants “a lesson.” They shower their new neighbors with advanced technology but their generosity is tempered by a violence we humans fail to understand, or forgive. It is also thirst-quenching to hear from people of color about people of color, especially in the speculative fiction community. Through The Lesson we hear the cadence and spirit of the VI natives while the story touches on issues of racism, classism, and gend The Ynaa, an alien species, arrive on The Virgin Islands to teach its inhabitants “a lesson.” They shower their new neighbors with advanced technology but their generosity is tempered by a violence we humans fail to understand, or forgive. It is also thirst-quenching to hear from people of color about people of color, especially in the speculative fiction community. Through The Lesson we hear the cadence and spirit of the VI natives while the story touches on issues of racism, classism, and gender roles. The Lesson combines the ambiance of Rosewater by Tade Thompson with the eerie dread of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey while tensions mount between the humans and the Ynaa. This book is refreshingly difficult to classify with elements of historical fiction, science fiction, romance, and political thrillers. Looking at humanity through the eyes of these aliens brings forth our strengths and weaknesses in stark relief, making us ask ourselves, did we learn The Lesson or will there be a sequel to tell us what happens next? This is a piece you can add to your book discussion lists as the content is ripe for debate. Suitable for grades 8+.
    more
  • Kim Swartz
    January 1, 1970
    This is a debut novel. Interesting twist on the alien arrival theme. For 5 yrs the people of St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) have cohabited with the Ynaa, an alien race. While enjoying the vast technological advances gifted by the extraterrestrials, the outside world largely remains a safe distance from them. It is the native island population that experiences first hand the shift in their initial benevolent presence. Overtime it becomes clear there is a price to pay for anything less than total This is a debut novel. Interesting twist on the alien arrival theme. For 5 yrs the people of St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) have cohabited with the Ynaa, an alien race. While enjoying the vast technological advances gifted by the extraterrestrials, the outside world largely remains a safe distance from them. It is the native island population that experiences first hand the shift in their initial benevolent presence. Overtime it becomes clear there is a price to pay for anything less than total compliance.Mr. Turnbull is a talented writer. His detailed descriptions of the island locale created a vivid picture. He brings to life a bevy of complex characters. I actually wanted to find out what happened to these people. Unfortunately, as noted by some other reviewers, by the end there was too much of everything. Too many characters, ideas and subplots that I became confused as to what the story was trying to convey. I'm not sure what "the lesson" was.
    more
  • S
    January 1, 1970
    This was an interesting story... or at least, it should have been. As it was, it seemed not-fully-baked. The character development was weak except for Mera, and the story jumped among too many characters to let you really care about any of them. I didn't feel like I got a good handle on the Ciboney's motivations or what they were looking for. There was just not enough to like here.The setting was well done, and a nice change from the norm, but that alone was not enough to save it.The blurb compa This was an interesting story... or at least, it should have been. As it was, it seemed not-fully-baked. The character development was weak except for Mera, and the story jumped among too many characters to let you really care about any of them. I didn't feel like I got a good handle on the Ciboney's motivations or what they were looking for. There was just not enough to like here.The setting was well done, and a nice change from the norm, but that alone was not enough to save it.The blurb compares this to Rosewater, which is a stretch. But if you haven't read that one, then go for it! - much more worthwhile than this. And for others in this vein that might make the grade, check out:~ Camouflage by Joe Haldeman (with some interesting similarities to this book!)~ Sylvain Neuvel's Themis Files series~ the amazing Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis and Patternmaster series
    more
  • Elena
    January 1, 1970
    You know, I'm not that into sci-fi. This is the kind of book I wouldn't have read but it got me interested. I wanted answers to questions like what is the lesson and why did the Ynaa come to earth and all the other mysteries that the summary seemed to promise. I was a little disappointed to find that the book gives you more questions by the end than answers. I know a lot of people like a book like that and so maybe this is just personal preference, but I just left the book wanted more informatio You know, I'm not that into sci-fi. This is the kind of book I wouldn't have read but it got me interested. I wanted answers to questions like what is the lesson and why did the Ynaa come to earth and all the other mysteries that the summary seemed to promise. I was a little disappointed to find that the book gives you more questions by the end than answers. I know a lot of people like a book like that and so maybe this is just personal preference, but I just left the book wanted more information. It was really well written and I was really interested in the characters from the beginning so that was definitely done well. I would probably give this closer to 3.5 stars as it did keep my attention and interest me. It's not a very long book so I wasn't bored at any point, I just prefer more straightforward answers personally.
    more
  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    An unusual and thoughtful science fiction novel that asks you to think about more than the aliens. Set in Charlotte Amelie, it starts before the arrival of the Ynaa. Or so you think. Mera has already been on the island for many many years and she's about to find herself coping with conflict. Everything goes well with the invaders until it doesn't- they don't take offense well. They kill fairly indiscriminately. Turnbull has done nice job of creating human characters you will care about as well a An unusual and thoughtful science fiction novel that asks you to think about more than the aliens. Set in Charlotte Amelie, it starts before the arrival of the Ynaa. Or so you think. Mera has already been on the island for many many years and she's about to find herself coping with conflict. Everything goes well with the invaders until it doesn't- they don't take offense well. They kill fairly indiscriminately. Turnbull has done nice job of creating human characters you will care about as well as Ynaa you might recognize. Thanks to edelweiss for the ARC. This is well plotted, nicely written and, a good read even for those for whom sci-fi-fi is not a favorite genre.
    more
  • Irene
    January 1, 1970
    The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull is a unique speculative science fiction/political thriller. Well drawn and relatable characters and set in a tropical island "paradise". It's unclear if the lesson the aliens are trying to teach was learned, perhaps that could be addressed in a sequel. One "Lesson" I did learn is that Mr. Turnbull is a uniquely creative author and I will be looking forward to his next book.Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.
    more
Write a review