Axiom's End
Truth is a human right.It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

Axiom's End Details

TitleAxiom's End
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 21st, 2020
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN-139781250256737
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Adult, Alternate History, Speculative Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Novels, Aliens, Fantasy

Axiom's End Review

  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    7/12/19Me finding out Lindsay wrote a book and it's coming out next year:Just finished watching the video on her journey to getting a book published!! I've been a major fan of Lindsay videos for such a long time and can't wait to read this!! :DYou can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website 7/12/19Me finding out Lindsay wrote a book and it's coming out next year:Just finished watching the video on her journey to getting a book published!! I've been a major fan of Lindsay videos for such a long time and can't wait to read this!! :DYou can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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  • Rae
    January 1, 1970
    Lindsay Ellis is releasing a novel? Sign me the F*CK up 😭👌
  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Lindsay Ellis wrote a book?????YEEEEEESS. I've been following her since her Nostalgia Chick days and this makes me so happy
  • Eda**
    January 1, 1970
    I never expected my Youtube "geeky" world to clash with the (lately criminally neglected by yours truly) book world but...it's vastly appreciated.Lindsay Ellis apparently wrote a book guys. I'm oddly excited for this OMG! I never expected my Youtube "geeky" world to clash with the (lately criminally neglected by yours truly) book world but...it's vastly appreciated.Lindsay Ellis apparently wrote a book guys. I'm oddly excited for this OMG!
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  • Danny
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book, it was a pleasure to read the whole way through, and it explored some fascinating ideas of real substance with great heart and feeling. The pace was excellent, the plot was excellent, the characters seemed real, flawed, and likeable. At times, the book was hilarious and I laughed out loud. Yet it also dove into sharply realistic descriptions of trauma and genocide. But despite these heavy subjects, I never felt weighed down or depressed, like I often do when books root themsel I loved this book, it was a pleasure to read the whole way through, and it explored some fascinating ideas of real substance with great heart and feeling. The pace was excellent, the plot was excellent, the characters seemed real, flawed, and likeable. At times, the book was hilarious and I laughed out loud. Yet it also dove into sharply realistic descriptions of trauma and genocide. But despite these heavy subjects, I never felt weighed down or depressed, like I often do when books root themselves in dark subjects. I was insulated by a sense of hope and love for humanity/sentient life that the author managed to evoke throughout. My one complaint was the prose. It wasn't terrible, but there were a lot of verbal cliches, and those tend to bother me. But honestly, everything else about the book was so great that I completely tuned that out by the end of the second chapter.If I get my job at the bookstore back after the pandemic, I'm going to be hand selling this one.Thank you to the folks at Macmillan for sending the ARC to our store!
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  • Emily Vanderwerff
    January 1, 1970
    Lindsay is a friend, so I shouldn't review this in any real sense, because I am in this book's corner. But I think it's a lot of fun, with a really involving plot and incredible amounts of forward momentum. The central relationship between human and alien is really well done, and I ended up being surprisingly involved in it. Anyway, read it! Enrich my friend!
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  • Steff Pasciuti
    January 1, 1970
    | Reader Fox Blog | Truth is a human right.For a book that touted this statement periodically through the novel and even presented it as a main theme by introducing it within its marketing, Lindsay Ellis' Axiom's End really didn't have a whole hell of a lot to do with truth being a human right. That said, I actually really liked it? What's terrible is that I actually found my enjoyment quite surprising considering how difficult I found this book to get into at first--dull girl's boring life | Reader Fox Blog | Truth is a human right.For a book that touted this statement periodically through the novel and even presented it as a main theme by introducing it within its marketing, Lindsay Ellis' Axiom's End really didn't have a whole hell of a lot to do with truth being a human right. That said, I actually really liked it? What's terrible is that I actually found my enjoyment quite surprising considering how difficult I found this book to get into at first--dull girl's boring life is only not so dull because apparently, her daddy's some sort of Snowden but only because the government is lying about aliens visiting us--and how much I kind of detested Cora in the beginning.But, I had to read it because I love Lindsay Ellis' video essays and so the bright side is that it gets better!The absolute best thing about Axiom's End was the main alien character, Ampersand. He, unquestionably, carried the entire novel. In fact, he carried it so much so that the actual main character, Cora, could have been replaced with literally anyone--which considering she was a college drop out would have been nice--and I would not have even noticed. This may be why there was a certain point in the novel where I was genuinely rooting for her death but we'll get into that later.Ah, but oh my gosh, Ampersand is so brilliant.I just loved him so much. For a great many reasons, I adored this character. I think the piece that it really came down to is his intellect. And Ellis actually did a superb job of portraying it. He was an exceptionally logical and intelligent creature who'd thrown himself into a world of unknowns in order to save...something that had crash-landed and was stuck on Earth for...reasons.Okay, so his motivation was great until it wasn't. And I think, in its own way, the act of turning this into a mild love story kind of rendered Ampersands initial purpose...pointless. That said, I really didn't mind at all? It kind of mirrors real life, in a way.Okay, so I don't actually hate Cora.She grows on you. I'll be fair and say that I really didn't care for her at first, but she's a genuinely wonderful set of eyes through which to experience this world and the events of it. After we get past how dreary her life is without aliens, she becomes interesting. I loved reading her point of view, ironically enough, and I found her to be incredibly real. I was even incredibly fond of her motivations.I loved her relationship with Ampersand, watching the tentative alliance turn to genuine trust and friendship. They were great together and genuinely did make an incredible book together. The slow burn of their development was an impressive choice on Ellis' part and, quite frankly, next to Ampersand's shining personality was the second-best thing about this entire novel. She brought out the emotion in his fact-and-logic-driven exterior.That ending, though.Okay, the way Ellis decided to end her debut wasn't bad. I didn't love it, but I get why she chose it and I imagine the majority of readers will prefer it to the ending that I wanted. But I also just think that the ending I spent about the last 20% of the novel hoping for would have been way better, even if I'm fairly certain a lot of people would have hated it.Honestly? Their loss.And mine, too. Apparently.(view spoiler)[The whole fusion-bond thing was interesting, but really lacked the emotional punch I needed from it. Also, it was done without Cora's consent or knowledge. This kind of bugged the hell out of me since both Ampersand and Cora spent a good deal of time asking each other if they consented to be touched, so...let's just throw that to the wind, then, eh?But, the ending I truly think this novel needed was...Cora's death.I know, I know...wouldn't that just make the entire journey seem pointless? To which I say, sure. But it also makes it beautifully tragic. Especially after Ampersand gives up nearly everything trying to save her. Also, there's something ironic in this idea that he wouldn't allow her to kill Obelus because of his fusion bond with him and then ends up losing her after having created that bond. I just love this idea so much.So much would have been better if Cora had died in Ampersand's arms and he had been left alone with Obelus and his failures.And the fact that Ellis instead chose to end her novel safely, open-ended with Cora and Ampersand sort of just beginning their now shared lives together was so boring. I know it's a debut, but take a risk! (hide spoiler)]So, Axiom's End could have been amazing. And, at times, it truly seemed like it was going there. Ultimately, though, I think Ellis' novel ended up being a whole lot of excitement and brilliance...painfully sandwiched between dull beginning and boring ending. Did I kind of love it? Yeah. Does it need a different ending? Yes, please.| Instagram | Twitter | Reader Fox Blog | Bloglovin’ | Facebook |
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  • Shann
    January 1, 1970
    Ellis is as incredible as always.
  • Michael Cook
    January 1, 1970
    (Note: I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced.)I don't normally watch video essays on YouTube. It takes a very specific kind of personality to get me interested enough to watch anything on YouTube for more than 10 minutes - especially something that's just analyzing something else. But Lindsay Ellis is one of those YouTubers who can get me to watch an hour-long video and enjoy it. So, when I he (Note: I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced.)I don't normally watch video essays on YouTube. It takes a very specific kind of personality to get me interested enough to watch anything on YouTube for more than 10 minutes - especially something that's just analyzing something else. But Lindsay Ellis is one of those YouTubers who can get me to watch an hour-long video and enjoy it. So, when I heard about her debut novel, Axiom's End, I was really excited to give it a read. And I was even more excited about it when I heard it was a science fiction/alternate history novel about humanity's first contact with an alien species. That kind of story is one of my favorite kinds of science fiction stories and I was really excited to see what kind of a take Ellis would have on it. Having now read the book, I can say that it wasn't really what I expected at all. Ellis certainly puts her own spin on the first-contact genre, spinning a pretty interesting tale and delivering a book that, while a bit difficult to initially get into, makes for a compelling and enjoyable read.First things first: I found this book difficult to get into, but once I got into it, I was really into it. Allow me to explain. From page one, we're thrown into this story headfirst with no time to really get our bearings. The novel begins on the day California experiences a second strange meteor crash within the same month. There's no easing into this story; the plot is basically already in motion and we're left to just try and keep up with it. There's no time to really get adjust to what's going on or what anyone's relationship with each other is because things just have to keep going. It's like watching a TV series but skipping the pilot. You can mostly follow what's going, but you never quite shake the feeling of having missed something vitally important. And all of this is surrounded by some prose that initially feels really clunky. Though, more on that shortly.So, as the book opens, everybody is already on edge and we don't really understand why until a little later. In those opening pages, we also learn a lot about Cora, our protagonist, and her relationship with Nils, her Edward Snowden/Julian Assange-esque father who has just made some kind of bombshell announcement that Cora has no interest in learning about (though Nils ends up factoring into the story a lot less than you'd expect). Then, the meteor crashes and all hell breaks loose as we're very quickly introduced to more strands of the conspiracy that will stretch across the entire novel. Something breaks into Cora's house, terrifying her family. Government agents arrive and take her family into custody. Cora goes on the run. Cora starts to learn about the plot, only to suddenly end up somewhere else, having been kidnapped by something potentially extraterrestrial. Etc., etc. It's just... a lot that all happens incredibly quickly and it was often very difficult to follow. I felt like I needed an encyclopedia to understand what was going on and why. There was almost too much going on, to the point that it was a bit numbing. At times, it was like reading the Wikipedia summary of the novel instead of actually reading the story. It wasn't a very good experience and I was worried I was really going to dislike the book.Thankfully, this feeling didn't last too long. The first third of the novel takes us very quickly from Cora being extremely skeptical about aliens to Cora literally meeting an alien (named Ampersand), getting abducted by Ampersand, and agreeing to be Ampersand's translator as he goes about fulfilling his mission (which I won't spoil). And it's here where the book finally starts getting interesting, partially because it's the time when it finally slows down to start explaining what's been happening up to that point. From here on out, the plot is really interesting and it's delivered in easier-to-follow batches. And that plot is a really interesting one. I don't want to go into any detail about it because it's well worth experiencing as spoiler-free as possible, but once it finally gets going, it moves at a really satisfying pace - fast enough that you never get bored but slow enough that you're able to follow it. There are times where I wished the novel would slow down a bit so that a particular theme or idea could be explored more fully, but I'd suspect some of that exploration is being saved for a future novel in this series.Overall, the story is intricately plotted and thought out - which is both a positive and a negative. The world-building is excellent; it's set in 2007 and you can feel it almost immediately. There are references to Bush, the impending financial disaster of 2008, and tons and tons of mid-2000s pop culture. It's all very believable and it's an interesting time to set a story like this. The world-building seems to exist mainly to set up ideas for future books, but it didn't bother me much because the world that Ellis has created is one that I'd want to spend more time in. The details she shares here are important to this story but not so important that they need to dwarf everything else. It's just background, contextual information that enhances our understanding of everything that's going on. And it's great. But sometimes the details of everything are a little too intricate and it becomes difficult to follow all of the strands again. This doesn't happen very often, though, and Ellis is pretty quick to explain something, so it's more or less fine. On the whole, Axiom's End is a well-written and well-executed story that excited me, held my attention, and left me wanting more.Ellis does a great job of avoiding the usual pitfalls of a first-contact story. The story isn't really about how all of humanity reacts to an alien presence; it's more about how Cora and Ampersand react to each other. Their story is what forms the heart of the novel and it's a delight to track it. They're both interesting characters with intriguing backgrounds, but unfortunately, both characters don't quite get equal development. In all honesty, Cora is one of those characters who are really difficult to like. Her trauma defines her, and it's led her to be really closed off and standoffish to people. This kind of character is not always very fun to spend an entire novel with, and Cora isn't a particularly sympathetic narrator at first. To be fair, Cora's unlikability is sort of the point. Ellis uses Cora's trauma as a contrast with Ampersand's, comparing and contrasting their experiences, and the scenes where the two of them discuss their pasts and how they're feeling about their presents tend to be among the best scenes of the novel. But it doesn't really change the fact that it's really hard to connect with Cora until she meets Ampersand.However, after that fateful meeting, Ampersand kind of steals all the attention away from Cora as he's significantly more interesting just by virtue of being a fish-out-of-water alien. But still, the connection the two of them share is easily the most interesting aspect of the novel - and it's clearly the stuff that Ellis most wanted to explore. The two of them push each other into some emotional places as they probe at each other's respective trauma and grow closer and it's so juicy to read. There's a hint of Beauty and the Beast to their relationship - though probably not in the way you'd expect. On the whole, their storyline is immensely interesting and the way Ellis uses them to explore the ideas of trauma and morality and how the two interact with each other. Like I said, Axiom's End is less about how society reacts to aliens but more how one specific human reacts to one specific alien, and how their shared experience influences their worldviews. And in that context, it's a great story.Axiom's End is definitely a debut novel; it is both Lindsay Ellis's first published novel and also the first novel in a series of books involving Cora and Ampersand. Firstly, it reads like a debut novel in a few different ways. As I previously mentioned, the novel's prose is a bit rough at first. It often ranges between way too descriptive and not descriptive enough, frequently spending a lot of time describing things that don't seem to matter much in the long run while under-describing things that seem more important. And the word choices often feel as if Ellis is stretching to use different synonyms to avoid being repetitive instead of just describing what she's trying to describe more succinctly. It makes the whole thing feel a bit obtuse and less accessible. Now, to be fair, there's nothing technically wrong with the prose; there are no glaring grammar errors or anything like that. The problems with the prose are probably more subjective and the result of my own preferences rather than something that's actually a problem. I personally don't enjoy overly descriptive prose and I tend to prefer more straightforward descriptions of things. But your mileage may vary there. I'm sure most won't find anything noteworthy about her prose. But for me, it was a bit clunky for a while - though I did eventually get used to it and found myself able to just go with what she was doing.Secondly, Axiom's End is clearly the first part of a series of novels. While the main conflict is technically wrapped up by the book's end, the novel closes on a pretty big cliffhanger. I'd liken it to the feeling you get when you watch a season finale of a TV show: the season's main plotline is wrapped up, but the episode ends with the beginnings of the plotline that will form the narrative thrust of the show's subsequent season. That's exactly what happens with Axiom's End. And, to be fair, there's nothing wrong with that - as long as you know going into the book that you're not getting the entire story. Lindsay Ellis has been very forthright about this on her Twitter, trying to make sure that readers know they're reading the first part of a series, but the book's actual promotional material doesn't mention anything about the book being the first in a series, and I suspect that readers who aren't expecting a cliffhanger might be disappointed when they find one. So, here's your warning: this book ends on a cliffhanger. It's a damn good one, too, and it's left me eagerly anticipating the next book in the series. But, had I gone into this not knowing it was the beginning of a series, I'd have probably been annoyed by the cliffhanger. So, just be aware of that and know that a sequel has already been confirmed and is currently expected to come out next year.All in all, Axiom's End is a pretty solid debut from Lindsay Ellis. While the first third of the novel is a bit dense and hard to get into, once the story really gets moving it's very easy to get enveloped in all that's going on with Cora and Ampersand. It's a really unique take on a first-contact story, focusing on the micro implications of a human and alien making contact rather than on the macro implications. Ellis brings a passion to the material; she clearly has something to say about humanity and how we interact with other species, and she does a great job of articulating this. Ellis does an equally impressive job of setting up an entire world here, teasing us with little references to all that's going on outside of Cora and Ampersand's story and leaving us wanting to explore more of this world. In much the same way, the book ends on a cliffhanger that deftly propels us into the next chapter of the story - which has, thankfully, already been announced for a 2021 publication. At the end of the day, Axiom's End is one of those books that takes a bit of time to get going, but once it does, you'll be extremely happy you read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm excited to see where Lindsay Ellis takes it in the future.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I requested this arc because I really enjoy Lindsay's film criticism on YouTube, and hoped that would be enough to overcome the sci-fi, as that remains one of my struggle genres.Unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the characters, at any point. I could buy into trauma leading to an emotional connection between Cora and Ampersand in the macro - but upon a mild second ponder, what would attract him to Cora? And I'm speaking mentally, not in judgement of her (oft discussed) rachet root situation. I requested this arc because I really enjoy Lindsay's film criticism on YouTube, and hoped that would be enough to overcome the sci-fi, as that remains one of my struggle genres.Unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the characters, at any point. I could buy into trauma leading to an emotional connection between Cora and Ampersand in the macro - but upon a mild second ponder, what would attract him to Cora? And I'm speaking mentally, not in judgement of her (oft discussed) rachet root situation. I just felt we lost so much of her character while she acted as interpreter for Ampersand - there isn't a lot of room for development when your MC's main function in the story is to be the mouthpiece for another.I also didn't understand why this needed to have the backdrop of the financial crisis - the NINJA mortgages still exist in a world also grappling with first contact (!?), you don't need both problems to blow up the stock market.I don't want to harp on, as this is a debut, and judging by the other reviews posted so far, I am the outlier - but it really didn't work for me.Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an arc for review. This has in no way influenced my opinion.
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  • Joey Brunelle
    January 1, 1970
    This was the most exciting novel I've read in years. It is a true page-turner, full of intrigue and twists that keep you on the edge of your seat. I read it cover-to-cover in four days. It asks some very deep questions about what it means to be human, and what it might mean to not be human.Lindsay Ellis is a brilliant thinker who I have followed on YouTube for some time, and her intelligence glows through every page. Her writing style is sophisticated but with no pretense, deeply informed but no This was the most exciting novel I've read in years. It is a true page-turner, full of intrigue and twists that keep you on the edge of your seat. I read it cover-to-cover in four days. It asks some very deep questions about what it means to be human, and what it might mean to not be human.Lindsay Ellis is a brilliant thinker who I have followed on YouTube for some time, and her intelligence glows through every page. Her writing style is sophisticated but with no pretense, deeply informed but not oppressively intellectual. (It's the writing style of style of a scion of the Internet.) That's not an easy balance to strike, and I shudder to think of how much work went into writing this almost 400-page novel.Brava, Lindsay! (Please keep writing!)
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  • Kevin Hall
    January 1, 1970
    This book is going to be HUGE. It has everything: George Bush being a dumbass, governmental subterfuge, intergalactic sexual tension, and interplanetary linguistic intrigue.
  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    More TK -- but first impression, it's a strong but flawed debut with fascinating worldbuilding.
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    I first met Lindsay Ellis in 2009. I was a young to-be college freshman killing time in the summer before I moved to Santa Cruz and she was an up and coming video maker who had been accepted to USC's vaunted masters in film program. Over the years, I've come to value her opinion on a number of wide-ranging topics mostly related to film and criticism. But of course, I've never actually met Lindsay Ellis. She is, as far as I know, a sequence of pixels I watch on YouTube roughly once a month or may I first met Lindsay Ellis in 2009. I was a young to-be college freshman killing time in the summer before I moved to Santa Cruz and she was an up and coming video maker who had been accepted to USC's vaunted masters in film program. Over the years, I've come to value her opinion on a number of wide-ranging topics mostly related to film and criticism. But of course, I've never actually met Lindsay Ellis. She is, as far as I know, a sequence of pixels I watch on YouTube roughly once a month or maybe she's a series of 240-character bursts I follow on Twitter. I've never met the real in-person Lindsay Ellis, I don't know her at all. And yet...don't I know her? How else do I know why the main character in this book specifies after eating an entire plate of pancakes that she ate the *whole* plate? What possible other reason could there be for me to know why there's a minor character named Kaveh? If I don't know Lindsay Ellis, why do I understand that the main character's relationship to her absentee father is in some ways a reckoning Lindsay is having with her own deceased father who she also felt distant from?I bring up my non-relationship to a person I've only ever known in selective bits and pieces from a very great distance because this novel, Axiom's End, the first book in a yet to be named trilogy, is fundamentally about relationships both real and imagined, both near and distant. It's about both the impossibility and the necessity of finding connection. Main character Cora Sabino, college dropout, is defined by her relationship to the most important whistleblower in the history of the world: Nils Ortega. Nils is her estranged father who Cora cannot stand and yet cannot escape thanks to the fact that he revealed the existence of extraterrestrials thus forcing him to flee from the US, abandoning his family to the intense government scrutiny that he himself has chosen to avoid. His shadow looms large in this book despite never actually appearing or interacting with our protagonist. When one of those same aliens whose existence was revealed by Nils kidnaps Cora to use her as an intermediary, she is forced to find a way to get him to trust her so that she can speak on his behalf. This alien, code-named Ampersand, forms the most important actual relationship in the book with Cora. Both are isolated from the world around them, both need the other for meaning, and both can barely understand each other and spend much of the first half of the book cagily trying to hide their true selves from each other. Even as they get to know each other and reveal more of themselves, they wound and betray each other by their failures to be as truthful or as open as they know they should have been. I think Ellis' talent for portraying relationships whether romantic, platonic, or familial is astounding. Every character in this book from the best developed to the most shallow has a complex, multifaceted, and distinct relationship with everyone they interact with. Having two damaged characters form a mutual partnership that is in some way the healthiest relationship either of them has ever known is a perhaps expected but still well-executed arc that gives a lot of weight to these considerations of relationships. The novel itself teems with examples, some subtle and a few deliberately blunt, demonstrating that communication, imperfect as it is, is the basis for healthy and meaningful interactions. Much drama is derived throughout the novel from Cora acting as translator for Ampersand, softening his words and trying to get his points across in ways that will not upset others or cause grievous, potentially lethal misunderstandings. If you'd have told me I'd be riveted by scenes of a college-aged girl trying to mediate a peaceful discussion between aliens and former Secretary of State Robert Gates...well I probably would have believed you because that does sound like my jam but that doesn't make it any less impressive that such plot momentum is able to be derived from scenes that could have been dreary in many other novels.And yet, despite all that, I find this book easy to like but hard to love. These characters are defined so completely by their relationships that their actual personalities are somewhat obscured by this hyper-attention to one facet of their lives that what we are shown of them as individuals ends up feeling a bit hollow. Perhaps it's purposeful. Perhaps this is a deliberate attempt to show that our personality can ever be understood apart from social interaction. Or maybe that's bullshit excuse-making on my part and Ellis somehow found a way to write deep relationships for shallow characters. I don't know and I don't claim to know. There's certainly something in there about the impossibility of having an identity apart from relationships either way. Perhaps the sequels will build upon that starting point. This is, after all, only a beginning.I think anyone who has enjoyed Ellis' work will find much to like here and that the novel is worth a read. I don't know how much anyone outside of that circle will appreciate the work but I certainly did. It is a thought-provoking work that I enjoyed more than I thought I would, even if it has some unevenness to it. As the book hammers home through its central relationship, you can never truly know someone, you can occasionally catch glimpses. I still don't know Lindsay Ellis but I know her slightly better than I did before and I like what she has to say as an author.3.5/5, a solid debut.
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  • Charis Wu
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I love Lindsay's video essays on Youtube so when I saw she was publishing an alien book, of course I was intrigued. I enjoy sci-fi, but it's not exactly my go-to genre and I don't tend to be a big reader of first contact stories. I have to say that I wasn't sure how much I would like this in the beginning, as I wasn't totally drawn in and I found it only partially interesting. The prose was meh - nothing extraordinary. However 3.5 starsI received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I love Lindsay's video essays on Youtube so when I saw she was publishing an alien book, of course I was intrigued. I enjoy sci-fi, but it's not exactly my go-to genre and I don't tend to be a big reader of first contact stories. I have to say that I wasn't sure how much I would like this in the beginning, as I wasn't totally drawn in and I found it only partially interesting. The prose was meh - nothing extraordinary. However, I slowly became more and more invested the farther I went and by the end I cared a lot about the characters and their fates. My favorite aspect of Axiom's End was the world building. I loved learning about the alien race that she built and the complexity of their society in their differences and similarities to humans. Some of the most interesting parts to read were the back and forth communication between human and alien, in which you gradually piece together details about their culture. One aspect that especially stood out was the emphasis on language, and how things can get lost in translation. I also liked the discussion of how there are things that go beyond the capability of ordinary language to explain, and are impossible to truly understand. Cora did not stand out particularly to me as a character. For whatever reason, I was just never able to feel a connection to her. Ampersand, however, was a complex and unique character and I found his relationship with Cora to be highly fascinating and compelling. I love how it tied into deep insights of human nature, the behavior of a society, and the way we treat those who are "other."I think that a good sci-fi ought to leave the reader with questions and this book does a good job of that. Nothing in the future is certain and a few things remain confusing or unexplained. Nevertheless, I found the ending to be a satisfying amount of open-ended and overall this was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
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  • Kaley
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I'm a bookseller and received a free ARC. I'm also a fan.I sure didn't expect this book to go in this direction, but in retrospect, maybe I should have. (view spoiler)[Once I realized it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling, everything made sense. What, am I new here? (hide spoiler)]This read was both enjoyable and challenging (in subject, not in the writing). There are a number of philosophical and ethical questions raised to which neither the book nor the characters claim to have ans Disclaimer: I'm a bookseller and received a free ARC. I'm also a fan.I sure didn't expect this book to go in this direction, but in retrospect, maybe I should have. (view spoiler)[Once I realized it's a Beauty and the Beast retelling, everything made sense. What, am I new here? (hide spoiler)]This read was both enjoyable and challenging (in subject, not in the writing). There are a number of philosophical and ethical questions raised to which neither the book nor the characters claim to have answers. Is truth a human right? How does trauma isolate us from each other? Is it possible to overcome our differences when cultures disagree on morality?It took me a while to connect with the protagonist, but she did grow on me as her life took on more purpose. I appreciate the complexity of the characters' relationships with one another, which are at the forefront of most of the novel. There aren't really "bad guys" and "good guys", just people working toward various goals which sometimes conflict.Perhaps weirdly, I feel most connected to the aliens- their scenes are the most compelling, original, and impactful. Everything from their physical forms to what information we're able to learn about their society is fascinating. Plus, Ampersand is a delight; he really carries the novel.While the 2007 callbacks amused me at first, there was a point at which I felt that they were overdone. I'm the same age as the protagonist's younger brother, so I'm as nostalgic as the next person, but once the story picks up, it really gets distracting.The ending is so sudden and open that it leaves room for a sequel; if there is one, I will definitely be reading it.
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  • Chloe
    January 1, 1970
    I received an Advanced Readers’ Edition of this book from St. Martin’s Press through their Goodreads Giveaway contest.This book is fun; I read it in two sittings. As a medium-size fan of first contact stories, I thought this one was pretty good. The progression of distrust to trust for the parties involved over the course of the story is handled really well. Ellis also made me feel things for aliens that were unexpected. I feel like the main character’s motivations could have been a little stron I received an Advanced Readers’ Edition of this book from St. Martin’s Press through their Goodreads Giveaway contest.This book is fun; I read it in two sittings. As a medium-size fan of first contact stories, I thought this one was pretty good. The progression of distrust to trust for the parties involved over the course of the story is handled really well. Ellis also made me feel things for aliens that were unexpected. I feel like the main character’s motivations could have been a little stronger, but it plays out well as it is.I would say this book can fall into three genres: speculative fiction, science fiction, and alternative history. As this story takes place in 2007, first contact at that time has a profound effect on world events. Side note: As someone who lives in Colorado Springs, I'm always pleased when the city is a setting in books. I'm interested to know if there will be a continuation of this story. The ending is a little ambiguous (which I like) and there are some points made that could lead to another book with at least a few of the same characters in the future. I will definitely reread this book in the future, both because I want to read the final version and I enjoyed it. Recommended to people who like any of the following books/movies: Arrival/Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, Contact by Carl Sagan, the Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card.
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  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    SHE'S FRIENDS WITH THE ALIEN, GUYS.This book is good. There's so much linguistics. So much xenocultural exchange. So much weight on the relationship between one college dropout with abandonment issues and one lost alien with PTSD. First Cora finds herself kidnapped, but then she BECOMES FRIENDS WITH THE ALIEN. SHE TEACHES IT TO HUG. SHE ENDS UP (view spoiler)[ PLATONIC SOUL BONDED TO THE ALIEN. (hide spoiler)]I stayed up until 3 AM reading this accidentally. It was effortless. If there's ever SHE'S FRIENDS WITH THE ALIEN, GUYS.This book is good. There's so much linguistics. So much xenocultural exchange. So much weight on the relationship between one college dropout with abandonment issues and one lost alien with PTSD. First Cora finds herself kidnapped, but then she BECOMES FRIENDS WITH THE ALIEN. SHE TEACHES IT TO HUG. SHE ENDS UP (view spoiler)[ PLATONIC SOUL BONDED TO THE ALIEN. (hide spoiler)]I stayed up until 3 AM reading this accidentally. It was effortless. If there's ever more in this series I will eagerly consume it. So yeah. I liked it a lot.
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  • Trin
    January 1, 1970
    Let me start by saying that I adore Lindsay Ellis' pop culture criticism. She's smart and funny and really, truly insightful--I feel like her YouTube videos take you on journeys that are often unexpected, that make you look at culture in new ways. That's a rare thing in a landscape filled with rehashed opinions and "hot takes."So I was deeply jazzed to read this, her first novel . . . and ultimately saddened to feel a bit let down by it. Which is in no way to say that it's a bad book! On many le Let me start by saying that I adore Lindsay Ellis' pop culture criticism. She's smart and funny and really, truly insightful--I feel like her YouTube videos take you on journeys that are often unexpected, that make you look at culture in new ways. That's a rare thing in a landscape filled with rehashed opinions and "hot takes."So I was deeply jazzed to read this, her first novel . . . and ultimately saddened to feel a bit let down by it. Which is in no way to say that it's a bad book! On many levels it's an intriguing first contact story. But I also struggled with it quite a bit. In part, this is because, while Ellis is a brilliant video essayist, I found her novelistic prose to be . . . well, it's fine. "Workmanlike" is the condescending term often used, and that I hate myself for quasi-using. Honestly, I can see her style not bothering most readers: remember, my expectations were high! But to my mind, the writing itself is not great.It's very fast-paced, however: characters constantly charging from one location to the next, being captured by various forces, escaping capture, being recaptured, capturing their captors. I found it a bit frenetic, and liked the book best when the plot slowed down, and we just got scenes of our main character, Cora, conversing with the alien central to the first contact story, called Ampersand. Their relationship is the highlight of the novel. (Because it's an obvious play on Beauty and the Beast. Like, especially obvious if you know Ellis' other work. If this makes it sound like I am mad at this aspect of the novel, let me assure you I am not. It was genuinely my favorite part of the story -- I maybe wish Ellis had leaned into it more? But lol.)However, all around them, there's plot happening, and it's really really complicated plot: lots of alien politics that I think ultimately mostly hung together, but that never interested me. And then there are the Earth politics. The book is set in 2007. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Robert Gates all make cameo appearances, which is either clever or weird, I genuinely cannot decide. One thing I'm fairly firm on: I don't believe for a second that (view spoiler)[George W. Bush would instantly resign after getting caught lying about government knowledge of the existence of aliens. Even if you see him solely as the puppet of Cheney, he was a useful puppet, and the Republican Party would have never allowed it. Recent events, let's say, have made it very, very hard for me to buy this plot development. But also: the fact that we have a worse liar in the White House currently should not make us forget that reality's George W. Bush was also a massive and consistent liar, and he completely got away with it. (hide spoiler)] This is all engineered, by the way, by Cora's estranged father, who is basically Julian Assange but less immediately repulsive. This familial connection played into the plot less than I thought it would; it feels like something that Ellis may be saving for a sequel.Quite a bit did, and that may be my other big issue. After some dragginess in the middle (I got a bit bogged down during the Cheyenne Mountain section), the book rockets toward its conclusion. And really, all the most interesting stuff happens right at the end! It does make me want to read a potential sequel -- but also ensures that my expectations will be much more tempered for that volume.Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy of this book. I've been on GoodReads since 2007 and this was my first NetGalley! I'm finally a real girl!
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  • August Whitlock
    January 1, 1970
    Just pre-ordered this book. So excited to read Lindsey's debut novel. She's a pretty tough--but fair--critic of various different movies and books, so if this book lives up to half of her expectations as a critic, it should be great to read. Can't wait.
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  • Kayla (krakentoagoodbook)
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked the premise of this as it reminded me in part of the plot from the movie Arrival. The story begins a bit slowly as we're introduced to Cora, our main character, who is just kind of unmotivated to do much in life. However, that rapidly turns around and the pacing picks up once she encounters the aliens and becomes an interpreter. While I never completely warmed up to Cora, I really enjoyed seeing her friendship with the alien develop. The alien is by far the most interesting charac I really liked the premise of this as it reminded me in part of the plot from the movie Arrival. The story begins a bit slowly as we're introduced to Cora, our main character, who is just kind of unmotivated to do much in life. However, that rapidly turns around and the pacing picks up once she encounters the aliens and becomes an interpreter. While I never completely warmed up to Cora, I really enjoyed seeing her friendship with the alien develop. The alien is by far the most interesting character in the book. We do get to learn about the alien society and hierarchy, which was interesting and confusing. We do have a good amount of terminology thrown at us, and I'll admit that I didn't entirely remember everything and the identities of the different aliens. In general, I felt like there were some somewhat complex concepts and ideas in this story, so it does require some close attention at times.I really liked the focus on interpretation. Cora really strives to accurately translate things while also providing human context and softening sometimes harsh ideas. There's also an interesting exploration of being human and how dominating cultures/species press beliefs and other societal ideas onto others. There is also a good amount of talk about consent throughout the book, so I appreciated that. I felt satisfied with the ending, though as other reviewers have mentioned, it does take a bit of a departure from the themes in the rest of the story. I do think that this feels like a debut book with some sometimes uneven pacing and serviceable prose. That being said, I think that this would lend itself well to being adapted into a show or movie. Overall, I do think that sci-fi readers will likely enjoy this book.I obtained an advance copy of this for review from the publisher via NetGalley - thank you! All opinions are my own.
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  • Isabella (Stubbornly Bookish)
    January 1, 1970
    E-ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my ownAxiom's End is an alternate history first contact story set during the cusp of the 2008 market crash. It follows a girl named Cora who is unwittingly targeted by multiple entities, human and non, because of her own families involvement in the first ever contact of an extraterrestrial beings. She then finds herself the interpreter of a possibly hostile being and has the hopeless task of tryi E-ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my ownAxiom's End is an alternate history first contact story set during the cusp of the 2008 market crash. It follows a girl named Cora who is unwittingly targeted by multiple entities, human and non, because of her own families involvement in the first ever contact of an extraterrestrial beings. She then finds herself the interpreter of a possibly hostile being and has the hopeless task of trying to broker an understanding between the US Government, in lieu of a more sinister and dangerous threat to all of humanity. This is a very interesting take on the first contact sub genre. Lindsay Ellis chooses to focus on the relationship between Cora and Ampersand and the ethical implications of their situation, as opposed to a high octane, militaristic, war on aliens that usually take place within the genre. There is a lot to chew on and consider in regards to the story and I really appreciate that. That being said this does contain some pitfalls that debuts can offer. The pacing was a little off kilter and our main character is initially pretty flat and lacking agency. There is a lot to like with this story and I will be posting my full video review closer to the release date.
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  • Jack Atherton
    January 1, 1970
    WOO! This book was so GOOD!!! A really original take on the genre. It was interesting and gripping the whole way through, and had really compelling parallels both within itself and to our current world (especially subtext and overt text along the lines of race and systemic racism). There are also a few "easter eggs" for people who engage with Lindsay's media criticism, such as the quote "I ate the whole plate" (from her videos about film theory through the Transformers franchise) and naming a mi WOO! This book was so GOOD!!! A really original take on the genre. It was interesting and gripping the whole way through, and had really compelling parallels both within itself and to our current world (especially subtext and overt text along the lines of race and systemic racism). There are also a few "easter eggs" for people who engage with Lindsay's media criticism, such as the quote "I ate the whole plate" (from her videos about film theory through the Transformers franchise) and naming a minor journalist character only mentioned once "Kaveh" (the name of a close friend of hers -- they make the MusicalSplaining podcast together). But you don't need to be a big fan of Lindsay's prior work in order to utterly enjoy this book.Wow! I haven't read a book quite like this one in a long time, if ever. What a promising start! There is so much I would love to gush about, but I won't because I don't want to spoil anything.
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  • Geonn Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting, and not at all bad, book. In the end, it's a well written first contact story that's unlike most of what you've seen before, so it's worth the price right there. The knocks come from the amount of exposition dumped in large blocks, essentially two people talking to each other or excerpts from articles/speeches. It kept the story from being as dynamic as it could've been. It's a solid debut, and I think fans of Ellis' other work will be very pleased.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.Solid first-contact debut. Lindsay Ellis is a master at analyzing pop culture media, and the book avoids the worst parts of a usual modern-day sci-fi tale:• It stays personal, focusing in large part on the developing relationship between Ampersand and Cora and how we can make connections despite incredible differences (instead of blowing things up. But don't worry, things are blown up).• Cora is a more human and more normal protagonist than we Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.Solid first-contact debut. Lindsay Ellis is a master at analyzing pop culture media, and the book avoids the worst parts of a usual modern-day sci-fi tale:• It stays personal, focusing in large part on the developing relationship between Ampersand and Cora and how we can make connections despite incredible differences (instead of blowing things up. But don't worry, things are blown up).• Cora is a more human and more normal protagonist than we usually get— certainly not a Dan Brown-esque hero. She's not a Mary Sue, which was welcome. She's not a prodigy of science or martial arts. Other characters are not stunned by her beauty. She has myriad imperfections. She flunked out of college. She's not particularly informed. She has a fraught relationship with the adults in her family, especially her father, a Snowden-like character. • There's a subtext about how things get lost in translation and how damaging lies can be. I think this is where the setting, the early 2000s, makes a lot of sense. There were also some elements that troubled me as a reader:• The core relationship of the book didn't get enough screen time for me, especially when Cora is virtually ignored while in the government bunker. As a result, the closeness between Cora and Ampersand felt rather forced.• While I think some of us can relate to aspects of Cora's character, but I found it difficult to connect with her despite a fair amount of Cora self-reflecting near the beginning of the book. Hard to say what I wish had been different. • Cora's father comes up again and again the book but ultimately plays a very minor role. This was disappointing, but I'm fairly certain it's a wind-up for a sequel. • It feels like there's a mismatch between the voice and the plot. The book reads/is paced like a mainstream thriller, especially with the "government spooks are out for you" but the relative lack of outrageous heroics combined with a focus on the relationship between the protagonist Cora and the alien Ampersand gives it a different feel. That contrast is neat, but I'm not sure it worked. • As one of the other reviewers points out, the ending is a curious departure from the emphasis on consent.
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  • Reagan
    January 1, 1970
    Lindsay Ellis is one of my favorite Youtubers.Damn right I'm reading this.
  • Jacob Schreifels
    January 1, 1970
    I loved everything about this book! I posted a full review on my blog Books and Pixels which you can find here:https://booksandpixels.com/2020/05/09... I loved everything about this book! I posted a full review on my blog Books and Pixels which you can find here:https://booksandpixels.com/2020/05/09...
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  • baldbookgeek
    January 1, 1970
    My full review on youtube Lindsay Ellis Axiom's End / REVIEW https://youtu.be/efdZVI4o8PI My full review on youtube Lindsay Ellis Axiom's End / REVIEW https://youtu.be/efdZVI4o8PI
  • Adam Berzak
    January 1, 1970
    Fun-fact about Lindsay: Her drinking around the world at Epcot video on YouTube is the best of the genre. I expect no less from this book.
  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this title in a Goodreads giveaway.And full disclosure: I'm just not totally sure what to think about the book. As you know, Lindsay Ellis is widely known for her smart, witty, and thought-provoking video essays. So, when I saw that she had written a book--and a book with the tagline "Truth is a human right"--I wanted to request an ARC to see if she could reproduce smart, witty, and thought-provoking content in this medium as well. I admit that first contact Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this title in a Goodreads giveaway.And full disclosure: I'm just not totally sure what to think about the book. As you know, Lindsay Ellis is widely known for her smart, witty, and thought-provoking video essays. So, when I saw that she had written a book--and a book with the tagline "Truth is a human right"--I wanted to request an ARC to see if she could reproduce smart, witty, and thought-provoking content in this medium as well. I admit that first contact narratives are outside of my normal generic preferences, so I was hoping that Ellis's wit would carry me through a reading experience I wouldn't otherwise choose. The answer to whether that worked is . . . sorta. I did find myself moving rapidly through the novel and interestedly returning to the book as opposed to force-feeding myself just for the sake of finishing (I can't stand an unfinished book). And on that level, I'd say it worked. I was page-turning my way through an "alien book." Those who know me know how remarkable that is. And that does speak well of Ellis's work. I found the characters compelling and well-drawn. I even found myself--about halfway through the book--starting to imagine Ampersand in more and more humanoid ways. I was excited when I saw the italics coming, as I wanted to get to know him and his thoughts more fully, and I stopped imagining his large, mantis-like body when he would appear. In other words, I started to see Ampersand for what was on the inside and not on the outside. I presume that this is, at least in part, what Ellis was going for. Mission accomplished.Strong, humanized characters and a well-paced, page-turning plot aside, I also found the plot to be a bit worn. I couldn't help but notice that it's basically the exact same plot that is used by the animated Rhianna-vanimation movie Home (based on the middle grades book The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex)--all the way down to a version of the "bad guys are just looking for their baby" plotline. I don't know if Ellis was inspired by Rex or not--it's possible. Furthermore, after admitting that first contact stories aren't my usual generic fare, I can't say with certainty whether these are simply traditional first contact tropes. But even so, one might imagine that a writer who is so keen on calling out tropes in other media/narratives would work to avoid falling into such a "tropey" plot.And one final nit. I found myself annoyed by the running musical commentary that was represented by characters' sartorial choices. (Why is everyone in the novel wearing a band t-shirt?) I get it: My Chemical Romance and Our Lady Peace are lame and Neko Case is a #girlboss. I don't disagree in the least with these musical assessments. But it just felt like Ellis was trying to find ways to shoehorn her musical taste into places it didn't seem to fit (perhaps not unlike the little girl's interest in science being shoehorned into the Tim Burton Dumbo reboot?). So, as I said in the open: I'm not sure what to think about the book. I appreciated its characterizations and appropriate pacing. I appreciated its commentaries on our contemporary moment. I felt a bit let down that Ellis didn't do more with the plot. I can certainly say that I enjoyed the book. I'm just not sure it will stick with me long term--not in the same way that Ellis's video essay do.
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