The Lesson

Blackstone. Jun. 2019. 275p. ISBN 9781538584644. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781538584668. SF
OrangeReviewStarDEBUT Five years ago, an alien ship appeared above Water Island, and the U.S. 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 also show no tolerance for aggression against themselves; aggressors are met with extraordinary violence and that often results in death. Mera, the Ynaa ambassador, tries to balance her people's actions with the humans', while bonding with Derrick Reed, her assistant with his own family struggles, 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 humanity. As other residents see their journey play out from the occupation to the anniversary, stories and lives become intertwined, culminating in a final conflict that not everyone can survive. Emotional prose and distinctive characters highlight this incredible tale that will touch readers' hearts and minds.
VERDICT A compelling read of an invasive occupation and emotional uprising, Turnbull's debut is a must for all libraries. The author, who crafts speculative stories featuring black characters on par with Octavia Butler, is definitely one to watch.
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