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by Scott Sigler
Del Rey, $18.99, 539pp
Published: March 2017

This is a sequel to “Alive,” click here for a review and “Alight”, click here for that review.

In the first novel, we were introduced to Em, a young woman whose life began when she woke from a dusty coffin as a 12-year-old in an adult body.  Along with several other young adults, also believing themselves to be just twelve years old, she traversed a horrific wasteland of endless metal corridors, full of dusty skeletons, in search of food and water…and their parents.  As they traveled, many of them discovered they had certain skills and memories; Em’s is apparently leadership as she feels this quite naturally.  But it came with a price; she had to fight others to maintain her leadership and she had to deal with the heartbreak of failures as a leader, as well.  They finally discover the ones responsible for putting them all in the coffins – the Grownups -and they aren’t quite the parents for which the young people hoped.  After a heroic effort to escape, our heroes, along with hundreds of children, found themselves on a new world, Omeyocan, – with no resources except themselves, and incomplete memories of who they are/were and of what they are capable of doing. 

As the second story opened, Em and the others landed their stolen shuttle on a new world – one that was, according to the Grownups, created for them.  They develop a better understanding of their capabilities and build relationships but Em’s leadership is still challenged. Aramovsky is a trial – he doesn’t seem to have any skills beyond oratory skills and a baffling view of the group’s relationship with….God.  Aramovsky’s fanaticism eventually led the group into a hopeless war with the planet’s native population, causing Em to change loyalties and find new friends.

In this last piece of the trilogy, Em and her new allies, the native Springers, are consolidating their territory with a last effort to destroy the remaining dissidents from the Springer villages.  Their King and Queen are now allied and friends with Em.  It would seem that things are settling down and perhaps the Birthday Children can finally start building a new society.  But that’s proving challenging to both Em and the Springer King, Barkah.  Both their peoples are plagued with reports of violence that seems unprovoked and excessive.  Even Em herself and her beloved Bishop experience irrational periods of violent behaviors.  And then the worst happens:  alien ships are entering the system and aiming directly for Omeyocan.  The Children are frantic to find a way to defend the planet and they find it in the Observatory – a gigantic building that appeared to be the center of the city.  The building is so enormous that they still haven’t explored the entire structure but they did have two significant finds.  The first is…they have nukes.  And the Observatory appears to be more than a telescope; it appears to be a missile guidance system.

But whether they can get one or more up and working may depend on if they get any assistance from Matilda on the Xolotl.

The second significant find was the source of the irrational anger and violence…there’s so much more to the human’s epic journey to this world, the Springers’ involvement and the reason why so many alien ships are approaching.  And this is the meat of this story so I can’t tell more without giving away spoilers.

I spend most of the book puzzling over the title.  The two previous book titles became apparent early on but not so with this one.  The title explanation comes down to the very end and it is not what I expected; I still don’t know if I liked the end or am pissed at the author.  Although, to give him credit, he did bring it altogether.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable trilogy, much credit to Mr. Sigler.  ~~  Catherine Book

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