Book Talk: Failure to Communicate

Posted March 15, 2018 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Books, Other People's Creations / 0 Comments

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Book Talk: Failure to CommunicateFailure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby
Series: Xandri Corelel #1
Pages: 395

As one of the only remaining autistics in the universe, Xandri Corelel has faced a lot of hardship, and she's earned her place as the head of Xeno-Liaisons aboard the first contact ship Carpathia. But her skill at negotiating with alien species is about to be put to the ultimate test.

The Anmerilli, a notoriously reticent and xenophobic people, have invented a powerful weapon that will irrevocably change the face of space combat. Now the Starsystems Alliance has called in Xandri and the crew of the Carpathia to mediate. The Alliance won't risk the weapon falling into enemy hands, and if Xandri can't bring the Anmerilli into the fold, the consequences will be dire.

Amidst sabotage, assassination attempts, and rampant cronyism, Xandri struggles to convince the doubtful and ornery Anmerilli. Worse, she's beginning to suspect that not everyone on her side is really working to make the alliance a success. As tensions rise and tempers threaten to boil over, Xandri must focus all her energy into understanding the one species that has always been beyond her: her own.

CW: Ablism (called out), abuse

Failure to Communicate is a not-quite-first-contact SF story featuring a bisexual autistic protagonist. It is utterly amazing and wonderful and I highly recommend it. With a bit of caution if anti-autism ablism is a difficult subject for you to read because the book spends a lot of time calling it out. Sønderby is autistic, so expect #ownvoices level of nuance in the way these call-outs are handled.

For me personally, if the book has a downside, it’s that I felt the novel leaned a little too much on comparisons to current times to settle into the worldbuilding, but that’s likely a personal preference. Xandri is amazing. She’s smart, resourceful, compassionate and… Well, basically just about everything I look for in a protagonist, really. Also she studies languages. Well, body language, mostly, but SFF stories about language are my jam. If they’re about figuring out how to use body language to communicate and save the world (well, universe)? Count me in!

Also did I mention there are parrots? They’re awesome! This book deserves better words, but I’m afraid I don’t have them. (Curse you, memory!) I will, however, say this. There is a prequel and there will also be a sequel. I can’t wait to dive into them! 😀

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