The lesson A novel

Book - 2019

An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find at the center of the inevitable conflict, witnesses and victims to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

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Science fiction
Ashland, OR : Blackstone Publishing 2019.
First edition
Physical Description
286 pages ; 22 cm
Review by Booklist Review

The Lesson begins with the ominous line, Fifteen days before, referring to an alien occupation of the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically Water Island. As soon as the occupation begins, the story jumps ahead five years, and the humans have all been coping with how the Ynaa alien race has complicated the social and political climate of their new home. It's becoming more and more obvious that the already tense cohabitation is reaching a boiling point. The Ynaa have been providing Earth with new technology in exchange for their occupation, but their strength and violent nature suggests that the occupation isn't exactly benevolent. The Ynaa use an ambassador to bridge the gap between the two races, but after an Ynaa murders a human teen, the tension becomes too much to bear. Turnbull artfully incorporates the history of slavery and colonialism on the U.S. Virgin Islands into the story, imagining that history's legacy on a future in which it's hard to differentiate between the cruel nature of man and alien. The Lesson is an impressive first book that takes a classic science fiction archetype and makes it feel new.--Rachel Colias Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Several residents of St. Thomas weather the storms of life before and after the occupation of the alien species Ynaa in Turnbull's rich debut novel about family, love, and loyalty in turbulent times. The story centers on Mera, Ynaa ambassador to the human residents of the Virgin Islands, who has hidden among humans for centuries, and Derrick Reed, her human assistant, who persists despite accusations of betraying his kind. Neither is a perfect fit for the worlds they come from, and the closer they grow to each other, the more adversity they face. When a Ynaa kills a young man and his grieving brother responds by assassinating one of the aliens, a terrible cycle of violent retribution begins, and Mera and Derrick must choose sides. Turnbull uses a beautifully drawn cast of black characters to convey the complexity of ordinary hardship in extraordinary times. This is an ideal story for fans of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven and other literary science fiction novels. Agent: Martha Millard, Sterling Lord Literistic. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

DEBUT 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.-Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

Sometimes the aliens don't land in New York or London.In fact, the alien Ynaa ship that catalyzes the emotional landscape and drives the action of this debut novel lands in the harbor of Water Island , one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Ynaa are decidedly a mixed bag, as aliens go: They don't intend to conquer, just to stay for a while to do some unspecified research. In return, they give humans advances in medicine and other technology. The downside is that the Ynaa, who nearly appear to be human but are far stronger, live by a code of survival above all things and return any violence or even perceived violence done to them with more excessive violence, which the governments of the world decline to pursue legally. Five years after the landing, many islanders are unhappy about the occasional dog ripped in half and young man's neck snapped. Moreover, the Ynaa are being less than forthcoming: The Ynaa ambassador, Mera, has been here far longer than most humans know. But that time has done more to damage her relationship with the Ynaa than with humanity; her intimate contacts with humans and the brutality she witnessed centuries ago when she posed as a slave have caused her to question both her people's way of life and their mysterious mission. Her struggle to reconcile her origins with her experiences and present circumstances is mirrored by several humans on the islandincluding Shawn, the angry brother of a boy killed by the Ynaa; Patrice, a young woman who went to the mainland U.S. for college but has returned pregnant; her ex-boyfriend Derrick, dubbed a traitor for his job working for Mera; and Derrick's grandmother Henrietta who refuses a Ynaa treatment for her cancer. All of them must come to their own conclusions, for good or for ill, as all of Water Island moves toward a final, explosive confrontation.A persuasivelyalmost musicallyworded meditation on colonialism and whether it's really possible to return home again. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.