Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Lindsay Ellis’ work as a video essayist so my review may be slightly biased. When I first heard that Ellis was releasing a book through her YouTube channel, I was beyond thrilled and dying to get my hands on a copy. Thankfully, the amazing folks at St. Martin’s Press sent me an advance reading copy (Axiom’s End comes out on July 21, 2020). And I’m so glad that the book lives up to the hype.
Axiom’s End is an alternate history set in 2007 in which George W. Bush has resigned from the Presidency, a whistleblower leaked possible evidence of extraterrestrial life to the New Yorker, and a second meteor just came crashing down on Earth in as many months. We are introduced to Cora, a college dropout who doesn’t seem to have much going on in her life other than being the estranged daughter of the notorious whistleblower. However, Cora’s life turns upside down when she makes first contact with an otherworldly creature. Soon enough, Cora is drawn into an intergalactic conflict that will make her question herself, her understanding of the world, and what it means to be human.
In true Ellis fashion, Axiom’s End is rich in subtext and literary/cultural references. The story is intelligent and profound with insights into family, language, and society. The world-building is sophisticated and filled with realistic details that make Ellis’ alternate universe feel authentic in spite of its cast of supernatural beings. That said, Axiom’s End is not a perfect novel; the pacing was uneven in the beginning and it took me a few chapters to become fully engrossed in the story. Also, while the book could work as a standalone novel, it’s evident that Ellis intends Axiom’s End to be the first of a series. The story ends somewhat abruptly and leaves a lot more questions to be answered. Despite these minor flaws, I absolutely loved the book and cannot wait for the next installment.