In 2007, twenty-something Cora becomes an intermediary between the human race and an alien named Ampersand, whose existence has been at the center of a government cover-up revealed by her whistleblower father. Cora's otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.
... cinematic and action-packed ... it’s also fast-paced, visual, and satisfyingly trope-y. Ellis knows how to make tropes—from protagonists befriending their alien counterparts to dogs (almost) dying to raise stakes in the first real action scene—effective without ever feeling cold or methodical. Besides being thrilling and readable, there’s real heart to the novel, and that more than anything is its sticking point. You can’t help but be invested in Cora and Ampersand’s awkward, blossoming relationship ... Despite what I found to be quite deft and graceful themes like the ones I’ve discussed here, the novel is clumsy in places ... every once in a while, my incredulity conflicted with what is otherwise a pretty emotionally real tone ... Overall, though, Axiom’s End is a delight—insightful, humane and engaging, even in its imperfections.
... an intriguing entry in the lengthy tradition of first-contact stories ... the novel goes in surprising direction ... Perhaps because Cora is young and somewhat cheeky, the novel sometimes takes on a lightly comic tone, filled with sarcasm and nerdy Easter eggs. And Ellis doesn't stint on the 2007-specific jokes ... This can make for a pleasantly breezy read, even given apocalyptically high stakes. At the same time, Ellis geeks out over every detail of the aliens' physiology, culture, history, even the structure of their language, providing an imaginative and coherent picture of alien society. At its core, Axiom's End is warm-hearted, even—very cautiously—optimistic, more Carl Sagan's Contact than War of the Worlds.
Ellis...shows her film school background...striking a good balance between cerebral and cinematic. It’s not perfect: the pacing is a little uneven—starting off quick before slowing down for a large portion of the middle and then speeding back up again toward an ending that felt a little abrupt ... and certain characters turned out to be less important than first implied. Flaws aside however, Axiom’s End is a great read that’s both entertaining and thought provoking.