Exo by Fonda Lee

ExoRomeo and Juliette would never have made it.

There are 2 R&J couples in this YA novel, death all around.

Our Hero, Donavan Reyes, is the son of the Prime Liason, AKA the main collaborator with our not-so-new alien overlords. Donavan has a good life, and he’s a soldier on patrol. For maximum drama, he gets captured by Sapience, the anti-alien terrorist group, while he’s not sure if he can arrest a pretty girl. Does Anya ever like him? Or is she just playing good-cop vs beat-the-prisoner cop? Donavan is 17. Of course he thinks they are falling in love.

There are a few nice plot twists, some of which the reader should have seen coming and some which are actually surprising. When the alien overlord’s own overlord from the home-planet shows up, well, no one is going to change their cherished beliefs any time soon.

Each side has slang names for the other side, the better to mock and de-humanize the enemy.

Here’s a question: If kids have alien tech integrated into their bodies when they are aged 4-5 years old, should they be punished (killed) as alien lovers? It’s not like they had much choice at the time, and the procedure is irreversible. Well, no, it’s not, but removing the tech leaves the person very messily dead. Does not matter! Sapience believes that the only good collaborator is a dead collaborator. That makes it hard to root for them.

Does this book actually pass the Bechtel test? It certainly has a number of named female characters, but I can’t remember them talking to each other about anything but men, mostly Donovan.

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