About Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis
The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public. As the political climate grows more unstable, the world is forced to consider the ramifications of granting human rights to nonhuman persons. How do you define “person” in the first place?
Cora Sabino not only serves as the full-time communication intermediary between the alien entity Ampersand and his government chaperones but also shares a mysterious bond with him that is both painful and intimate in ways neither of them could have anticipated. Despite this, Ampersand is still keen on keeping secrets, even from Cora, which backfires on them both when investigative journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, a close colleague of Cora’s unscrupulous estranged father, witnesses far more of Ampersand’s machinations than anyone was meant to see.
Since Cora has no choice but to trust Kaveh, the two must work together to prove to a fearful world that intelligent, conscious beings should be considered persons, no matter how horrifying, powerful, or malicious they may seem. Making this case is hard enough when the public doesn’t know what it’s dealing with―and it will only become harder when a mysterious flash illuminates the sky, marking the arrival of an agent of chaos that will light an already-unstable world on fire.
With a voice completely her own and more than a million YouTube subscribers, Lindsay Ellis deepens her realistic exploration of the reality of a planet faced with the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence, probing the essential questions of humanity and decency, and the boundaries of the human mind.
While asking the question of what constitutes a “person,” Ellis also examines what makes a monster.
Review of Truth of the Divine
I read this book because I liked the first one, Axiom’s End. It had lots of heart and even ended hopefully. Truth of the Divine starts with a trigger warning about suicide. Which was not at all what I was expecting. For anyone that might want to know, discussion of suicide is in the book but it is not the biggest part of the story.
Truth of the Divine continues the story of first contact with a species that is technologically advanced and also very different from humans. Physically, emotionally and philosophically different. First contact issues common in fiction and movies are present in this book. Many fear the aliens. The military want to control/study them. Many view the aliens as possible allies. But there is an overall sense of wariness.
The biggest question is about how the aliens can fit into human society. The book takes a deep dive into social politics and never comes up for air. Equating biases against the aliens to biases against humans that are different from those in power is a common theme. And a relevant one.
Kaveh is a new character in this book. He is a Pulitzer prize winning writer who’s Persian family is now firmly ensconced in American society – economically if not socially. He brings his own experience to the alien question.
Cora, the main human character from Axiom’s End, becomes a stronger character in this book, while having her weaknesses. Her relationship with the aliens makes her a key person in the political debate.
The alien characters were not well developed except in their role in upsetting the status quo of the United States and the world. And I’m not sure we needed to know more about them. After all, Truth of the Divine is ultimately about the human response to the aliens.
I felt like the entire story was all a setup for Kaveh’s essay that is presented at the end of the book. The essay, which seems to be a platform for the writer’s views, reiterates the socio-political themes throughout the book. The essay is a bit much after reading the whole book.
Set in the context of first alien contact, Truth of the Divine as well as its predecessor, Axiom’s End, gives the reader a fascinating, if sometimes less than flattering, look at humanity.
Thanks to the publisher who provided a copy through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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