My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I shouldn’t have enjoyed this novel, considering what a horrible person the narrator is. Kaaro steals, cheats, and lies. He’s angry, impatient, insolent, violent, and lazy. He disobeys superiors and abuses people when he thinks they deserve it or when he just doesn’t care. But he’s also honest with the reader, observant, and often a victim of people worse than himself who exploit him, so his anger is righteous. So is his fear. And his love.
Kaaro finds himself in the middle of a ghastly situation. Aliens have come to Earth, but little is known about them. As a result of their presence and the changes they’ve made to the planet, Kaaro is a “sensitive”: he has certain psychic powers. These powers get him in and out of all kinds of trouble. Slowly, episodically, he learns more about the aliens and his abilities, and none of what he learns is good.
The author, Tade Thompson, displays his skill, moving through Kaaro’s past and present to weave a coherent, expanding, multi-faceted disaster. He makes Kaaro, with all his faults, the perfect person to tell a spellbinding story. This is the first of a trilogy, and the series is nominated for a 2020 Hugo Award. On the basis of the first novel, it’s a strong contender.