Top positive review
An original first contact read
Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2018
This is a relatively standard first contact book but it manages to stand out on a number of accounts. Hence the "five stars" rating.
First, the story is weaved with the tribulations of the protagonists, a team from Medecins sans Frontieres and a group of rangers originally assigned to their protection, as they attempt to leave war-torn Malawi after everyone is being recalled following the arrival of the alien ship, and this makes for a very lively and colorful story line that is far more interesting and rich in human dimensions that many traditional science fiction works.
Second, the aliens themselves are sufficiently "different" that they escape many of the traditional stereotypes that often come along in first contact novels.
Third, the writing and character development is at least as strong as the story line, which itself includes a few mostly unexpected twists. The writing alternates between the 1st and 3rd person rather seamlessly, and this in some way also imparts a nice rhythm to the story.
The only minor negative in the book is the ending, and if half stars were possible I would have actually rated the book a 4.5 rather than 5 stars. My issues with the ending are two-fold. First, i It comes about pretty abruptly and is disappointingly short. I can sense that the author is leaving room for a sequel, but this nevertheless makes for a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion to an otherwise strong story line. My second gripe with the ending is that unlike the rest of the book, it scores low in terms of originality. Warning - Spoiler Alert (don't read if you don't want a sneak preview at the ending). In particular, the theme of two humans standing in front of an alien tribunal to plead for humanity and avoid its destruction because the alien's experience with us led them to believe we are hopelessly violent and dangerous to others is one that has been used by many others. And the author's version of this particular theme, while not bad, has nothing particularly striking to it. Given that the ending is less that 5% of the book, this is not a major flaw, and I would certainly recommend both the book and more importantly the author, but it was not at the same level as the rest of the book.