Book Review: The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

The Ynaa, an alien species, arrive on The Virgin Islands to teach its inhabitants “a lesson.”  They shower their new neighbors with advanced technology but their generosity is tempered by a violence we humans fail to understand, or forgive. 

It is also thirst-quenching to hear from people of color about people of color, especially in the speculative fiction community.  Through The Lesson we hear the cadence and spirit of the VI natives while the story touches on issues of racism, classism, and gender roles. 

The Lesson combines the ambiance of Rosewater by Tade Thompson with the eerie dread of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey while tensions mount between the humans and the Ynaa.  This book is refreshingly difficult to classify with elements of historical fiction, science fiction, romance, and political thrillers. 

Looking at humanity through the eyes of these aliens brings forth our strengths and weaknesses in stark relief, making us ask ourselves, did we learn The Lesson or will there be a sequel to tell us what happens next?  This is a piece you can add to your book discussion lists as the content is ripe for debate.  Suitable for grades 8+.


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