Salvation by Caryn Lix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the final volume of a young adult trilogy I've taken to calling "Young X-Men Meet Xenomorphs," with a good deal of Star Trek's Borg added to the mix for this book. The second book, Containment, ended on quite the cliffhanger, and this one has a goodly amount of plot threads to wrap up. Fortunately, it does so in a way that is fairly satisfying, even if the scientific handwaves are a bit obvious in places.
This time out, Kenzie and her fellow "anomalies" are stranded on what first seems to be a distant planet with no way of returning to Earth. As the story progresses, though, it becomes clear that not only are the inhabitants way too close to human to be possible, the culture and language of this planet is a mirror of Earth. This leads to the biggest plot twist, that this planet is Earth--an alternate-dimension Earth conquered by the aliens.
The pacing is much better in this book, flowing at an escalating speed to the final battle. There are a couple of heartbreaking deaths along the way--Lix isn't sparing of her characters. With the aliens as presented, it's a wonder anyone survives at all. The group pulls together and learns to work together and rely on each other, and the little found family does triumph.
Actually, the greatest issue with this book for me is the worldbuilding around the aliens. That's where the handwaving is most evident. We find out there are two other classes of alien, including one called Karoch that is the Borg Queen by another name. In fact their whole setup is really thinly disguised, repurposed Borg with a reptilian body plan and longer claws. This may take away from the story for some. I was able to look past it for the most part, especially with the relentless pacing of the book's final third, but you really can't think about it too much.
But overall, this book is a satisfying ending for the characters and the story, and it's a pretty good ride.
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