The Lesson
Blackstone. Jun. 2019. 275p. ISBN 9781538584644. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538584668. SF

DEBUT Five years ago, an alien ship appeared above Water Island, and the US Virgin Islands met the Ynaa. A species on an undisclosed research mission on Earth, the Ynaa hold great healing powers that benefit the island residents but that also show no tolerance for aggression against themselves, almost always met with extraordinary violence and death to the aggressor. Mera, the Ynaa ambassador, tries to balance her people’s actions with the humans, and Derrick Reed, her young assistant with his own family struggles, bond during the anniversary of the death of a young man at the hands of the Ynaa. They will have to choose sides in a growing standoff between the Ynaa and humans. As other residents see their lives play out from the occupation to the anniversary, stories and lives become entangled, leading to a final situation that not everyone can survive. Emotional prose and distinctive characters highlight an incredible story that will touch readers’ hearts and minds.

VERDICT A compelling tale of invasive occupation and emotional uprising, Turnbull’s debut is complex and enthralling. It’s a must for all libraries, and the writer, who crafts speculative stories with black characters on par with Octavia Butler, is definitely one to watch.

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