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Truth of the Divine

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USA TODAY BESTSELLER Truth of the Divine is the latest alternate-history first-contact novel in the Noumena series from the instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestselling author Lindsay Ellis. The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public USA TODAY BESTSELLER Truth of the Divine is the latest alternate-history first-contact novel in the Noumena series from the instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestselling author Lindsay Ellis. The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public. As the political climate grows more unstable, the world is forced to consider the ramifications of granting human rights to nonhuman persons. How do you define “person” in the first place? Cora Sabino not only serves as the full-time communication intermediary between the alien entity Ampersand and his government chaperones but also shares a mysterious bond with him that is both painful and intimate in ways neither of them could have anticipated. Despite this, Ampersand is still keen on keeping secrets, even from Cora, which backfires on them both when investigative journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, a close colleague of Cora’s unscrupulous estranged father, witnesses far more of Ampersand’s machinations than anyone was meant to see. Since Cora has no choice but to trust Kaveh, the two must work together to prove to a fearful world that intelligent, conscious beings should be considered persons, no matter how horrifying, powerful, or malicious they may seem. Making this case is hard enough when the public doesn’t know what it’s dealing with—and it will only become harder when a mysterious flash illuminates the sky, marking the arrival of an agent of chaos that will light an already-unstable world on fire. With a voice completely her own and more than a million YouTube subscribers, Lindsay Ellis deepens her realistic exploration of the reality of a planet faced with the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence, probing the essential questions of humanity and decency, and the boundaries of the human mind. While asking the question of what constitutes a “person,” Ellis also examines what makes a monster.


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USA TODAY BESTSELLER Truth of the Divine is the latest alternate-history first-contact novel in the Noumena series from the instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestselling author Lindsay Ellis. The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public USA TODAY BESTSELLER Truth of the Divine is the latest alternate-history first-contact novel in the Noumena series from the instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestselling author Lindsay Ellis. The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public. As the political climate grows more unstable, the world is forced to consider the ramifications of granting human rights to nonhuman persons. How do you define “person” in the first place? Cora Sabino not only serves as the full-time communication intermediary between the alien entity Ampersand and his government chaperones but also shares a mysterious bond with him that is both painful and intimate in ways neither of them could have anticipated. Despite this, Ampersand is still keen on keeping secrets, even from Cora, which backfires on them both when investigative journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, a close colleague of Cora’s unscrupulous estranged father, witnesses far more of Ampersand’s machinations than anyone was meant to see. Since Cora has no choice but to trust Kaveh, the two must work together to prove to a fearful world that intelligent, conscious beings should be considered persons, no matter how horrifying, powerful, or malicious they may seem. Making this case is hard enough when the public doesn’t know what it’s dealing with—and it will only become harder when a mysterious flash illuminates the sky, marking the arrival of an agent of chaos that will light an already-unstable world on fire. With a voice completely her own and more than a million YouTube subscribers, Lindsay Ellis deepens her realistic exploration of the reality of a planet faced with the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence, probing the essential questions of humanity and decency, and the boundaries of the human mind. While asking the question of what constitutes a “person,” Ellis also examines what makes a monster.

30 review for Truth of the Divine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    Excellent novel! Really slick writing, even better than the first, though with the same delightful 2000's nostalgia. I really wasn't expecting Cora and Ampersand to have kids so soon, but I mean, why knot? The heart wants what it wants. Nils could be a more involved grandparent to his alien grandbabies though. That bit made me sad. As way of a concluding remark, I cannot help but respectfully stan Ms. Ellis for her brilliance & wit in storytelling. [ This review is from the future, when the book Excellent novel! Really slick writing, even better than the first, though with the same delightful 2000's nostalgia. I really wasn't expecting Cora and Ampersand to have kids so soon, but I mean, why knot? The heart wants what it wants. Nils could be a more involved grandparent to his alien grandbabies though. That bit made me sad. As way of a concluding remark, I cannot help but respectfully stan Ms. Ellis for her brilliance & wit in storytelling. [ This review is from the future, when the book is out and it would actually make sense to allow people to rate it. Will likely edit this review once the book is actually out. ]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Basti Wulff

    I want to very calmly and respectfully ask for this book to COME OUT IMMEDIATELY WHERE IS IT I NEED IT NOW HOW DARE THE UNIVERSE NOT HAVING IT READY TO BUY AND DEVOUR YET THE DISRESPECT Anyway. I am very much looking forward to this.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Noumena - (Noo-meh-na) Noumena are posited objects or events that exist independently of human sense and/or perception. Obviously, I a very excited for this sequel | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram Noumena - (Noo-meh-na) Noumena are posited objects or events that exist independently of human sense and/or perception. Obviously, I a very excited for this sequel | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I'm very careful about requesting Advance Reader's Copy books. I try and request only those I am pretty sure I'll like based on previous knowledge of an author or the marketing copy provided. I thought I had a winner with this selection as I had read the first book in the series, Axiom's End, and enjoyed it. Alas, this book was not up to par with Axiom's End. It brought in new focal characters--usually not a bad thing--but sidelined the main alien that was so integral to the story in the first b I'm very careful about requesting Advance Reader's Copy books. I try and request only those I am pretty sure I'll like based on previous knowledge of an author or the marketing copy provided. I thought I had a winner with this selection as I had read the first book in the series, Axiom's End, and enjoyed it. Alas, this book was not up to par with Axiom's End. It brought in new focal characters--usually not a bad thing--but sidelined the main alien that was so integral to the story in the first book. This is a dark book and deals with topics not everyone will like to read about. The author even gives a warning at the start of the book. I didn't find the topics off putting; what got me was the very slow pace of the book and the repetition. It seemed to me that the author kept restating in exhaustive detail the same points over and over again. And did I mention slow pace? Yes, this book seemed to take me forever to get through to the point where I set goals for number of pages read before I could take a break. I was determined to finish it and I admit, I did get invested enough in the new characters to want to find out what happened to them. The book opens with a theme that is pivotal to the story: what constitutes the definition of being human and what rights these aliens have. Cora is suffering from PTSD from an encounter in the first book and Ampersand is trying to help her. Then a light appears in the sky and a new alien appears on Earth to join Ampersand. It also happens that a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Kaveh, is near and Cora gives him one of her ear buds so he can communicate with this new creature he dubs Nikola. The story then centers on the three of them with a lot of time given over to the budding relationship between Kaveh and Cora. Proof is given to the world that there are aliens being harbored by the U. S. Government and right-wing conspiracy groups and leftist human rights groups are formed. The battle begins. What made Axiom's End so engrossing, the story line of first contact, is missing from this book. Although Nikola and Kaveh go through the same learning process in getting to know one another, their story is just a restatement of what Cora and Ampersand have already gone through. Same story, different characters. This book could have done so much more with the Alien-Human relationships, but didn't. I did enjoy the theoretical discussion of person-hood and human rights and the controversy it caused. I also liked the alternate history angle although I thought the President should have played a larger role. Indeed, he wasn't heard from at all! Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this ARC in return for an honest review. The publication date is October 12, 2021.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    A very good sequel to Axiom's End. I think I actually preferred this to the first book, but...there were some things that I found a bit troubling. Cora's story and her involvement with the aliens and various government bodies continues pretty much from where it left off in Axiom's End. We get a new POV character, Kaveh, who is a delightful addition, although (of course) he has problems too. Also new aliens, which are always interesting. But the story did make for some uncomfortable reading. Cora i A very good sequel to Axiom's End. I think I actually preferred this to the first book, but...there were some things that I found a bit troubling. Cora's story and her involvement with the aliens and various government bodies continues pretty much from where it left off in Axiom's End. We get a new POV character, Kaveh, who is a delightful addition, although (of course) he has problems too. Also new aliens, which are always interesting. But the story did make for some uncomfortable reading. Cora is overwhelmed, her mental and physical health deteriorating at an alarming rate, and it's hard to mutely follow a character who is so obviously falling apart at the seams. The world of politics is also in turmoil, which I have seriouslyhad enough of in real life already. Plus, the aliens? Still lots of issues there, the main one usually being death. While I loved Kaveh's character, I also felt extremely conflicted about his relationship with Cora, for so many reasons. All of this unrelenting conflict and turmoil created a feeling that there was no escape, and an overwhelming sense of drowning. As a reader, too much despair can be an exhausting experience. It's not that I expected this to be a feel-good book, it's just dangerously close to feeling totally hopeless. Maybe there will be some hope sprinkled into book 3?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Truth of the Divine, the sequel to Axiom’s End, continuing the story of first contact with extra-terrestrials and a reminder that not all such Meet-ups are cutesy E.T. Stories. Moreover, these two books warn us that the extraterrestrials we meet may not be as concerned with us as they are with each other. We might just be in the way. These books explore communication between species and bonding with them and the chance that we might be an annoying anthill or wasp’s nest to them. As interesting a Truth of the Divine, the sequel to Axiom’s End, continuing the story of first contact with extra-terrestrials and a reminder that not all such Meet-ups are cutesy E.T. Stories. Moreover, these two books warn us that the extraterrestrials we meet may not be as concerned with us as they are with each other. We might just be in the way. These books explore communication between species and bonding with them and the chance that we might be an annoying anthill or wasp’s nest to them. As interesting as the first book in the duo was, the second one is in dire need of a sharp editor’s pen. It has all these interesting concepts and ideas, but they get lost in a sea of expositions that seem to head off in every direction.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    Obviously this book has not yet been released and won't be for another year. TBH I haven't even read the first one yet. I just saw that some people had rated it 1 star without there being any possible way they could had read it and I thought that was a kind of dick move so I wanted to throw a 5 star out there to balance the scales a bit. Maybe I'm just feeling petty. Don't hate-rate books you've not read. It's a sucky move all round. That is all. Thank you very much. Goodnight. Obviously this book has not yet been released and won't be for another year. TBH I haven't even read the first one yet. I just saw that some people had rated it 1 star without there being any possible way they could had read it and I thought that was a kind of dick move so I wanted to throw a 5 star out there to balance the scales a bit. Maybe I'm just feeling petty. Don't hate-rate books you've not read. It's a sucky move all round. That is all. Thank you very much. Goodnight.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    This instalment is tragic, and shows the evolution and the cost of the relationships Cora has with Ampersand, and the relationship the ROSA group has with the aliens dubbed the Amygdalines. The book begins as Cora is experiencing crippling anxiety, which she is attempting to conceal at work, as her contributions to the alien program is increasingly minimized by those in charge. Her already shaky self image is crumbling rapidly, and she has no one but Ampersand for any kind of support. The relation This instalment is tragic, and shows the evolution and the cost of the relationships Cora has with Ampersand, and the relationship the ROSA group has with the aliens dubbed the Amygdalines. The book begins as Cora is experiencing crippling anxiety, which she is attempting to conceal at work, as her contributions to the alien program is increasingly minimized by those in charge. Her already shaky self image is crumbling rapidly, and she has no one but Ampersand for any kind of support. The relationships amongst the aliens is also a cause for much confusion and consternation amongst the humans confining them, and this is brought up repeatedly, as another of the Amygdalines, an associate of Ampersand, arrives rather chaotic on Earth throwing an already difficult situation into a tailspin. Enter a new human inducted into the very small circle of those with contact with aliens: Kaveh Mazandarani, a respected journalist, who is also on Sol Kaplan’s sh*t list. Cora and Kaveh connect, and begin working together and romantically involved. As the only two humans functioning as alien interpreters places them in a tiny exclusive club. And the stress and strain upon Cora just keeps getting worse, unsurprisingly, as she finds out Ampersand has not been entirely forthcoming about, well, a lot of things. Meanwhile, much like our own world, people are reacting with fear and worry, and debating the personhood of aliens—as if a different body shape and different culture immediately connote inferiority compared to a dominant culture! Oh wait…..it does in real life, unfortunately, as we see all around us. This was a terrific bit tough instalment to get through. Everything about the situations is painful and difficult, and getting worse for Cora, and for the aliens, legally. It's difficult not to think of our own world when Kaveh expresses his concerns about the diminishing legal and other protections for individuals in this fictional world, based on the maneuvering of politicians. Though I said it was difficult, I still could not put this book down. I loved how Ellis dealt with the mental health of individuals in a pressure cooker situation, and the malleability of truth to everyone involved in this situation. The ending was a little shocking, but in some ways, considering how Cora and Ampersand have been dealing with things in this book, it's not that surprising that they would make the decision they do at the end. Which means, I want to know what happens next! Thank you Netgalley and to St. Martin's Press for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ruru M.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Just finished reading this and damn. Wow. Ok. Spoilers ahead! This was so heavy, I definitely recommend people reading the content warning in the begining of the book. Anyway I cant do sentences, heres bulletpoints: - I didnt know what I was expecting from the sequel to axioms end. It was not THIS, and yet Im blown away.. and so so hurt. I cried a lot throughout this because the way Lindsay handled topics of mental health and self harm hit so close to my core.. - I love Kaveh but it took me a while Just finished reading this and damn. Wow. Ok. Spoilers ahead! This was so heavy, I definitely recommend people reading the content warning in the begining of the book. Anyway I cant do sentences, heres bulletpoints: - I didnt know what I was expecting from the sequel to axioms end. It was not THIS, and yet Im blown away.. and so so hurt. I cried a lot throughout this because the way Lindsay handled topics of mental health and self harm hit so close to my core.. - I love Kaveh but it took me a while to accept that he in fact is just a kind person who wants the best for cora. I was awaiting a betryal somewhere in there, because damn, he was "too perfect" for what cora needed in this book.. That in the end he died was expected therefor, because apparently our dear cora cant have anything good in this world. - It took me a huge chunk of the book to accept and not be uneasy about coras and kavehs relationship. Just like the characters themselves, I also internally struggled about this whole age difference and power dynamic in literally every shape and form, but I believe Lindsay handled this really well because throughout their interactions, and the gentleness kaveh showed cora, and the slow but sure blooming of feelings, and the support he gave her, I, just like cora and kaveh themselves, came to accept this relationship. This is the first book I've read that handled the differences (and "taboos"?) of such kind of relationship well. - I have to admit being in coras POV was painful everytime, I was happy to read from kavehs POV. - I didnt even scratch the surface of the politics in this book: Im not from the US , but I believe the happenings in the book to be a realistic portrayal of how media would handle aliens (and therefor not just aliens, but also humans of different backgrounds.). Kavehs POV was really interesting to read, the way he navigates through life with his profession and his iranian background, it seemed super authentic! (from a white persons POv at least, cant wait to hear iranian people's thoughts of this character) - Nikola good - I want more ampersand in the next book, thanks - Fuck Nils

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jaimie Dodd

    UPDATE: Having read the book (thanks St. Martin's) I can say, with utmost humility, that I hate it when I'm right. First book was so formulaic to the point it ripped off other, better, stories. Second book (this one) tried so hard, and failed, to do something new that it fell so flat that it put its own, two dimensional characters, to shame. At this rate the third book will just be an index of all the references she wants to use. Too bad she wasn't cancelled for writing this piece of flammable garb UPDATE: Having read the book (thanks St. Martin's) I can say, with utmost humility, that I hate it when I'm right. First book was so formulaic to the point it ripped off other, better, stories. Second book (this one) tried so hard, and failed, to do something new that it fell so flat that it put its own, two dimensional characters, to shame. At this rate the third book will just be an index of all the references she wants to use. Too bad she wasn't cancelled for writing this piece of flammable garbage. It would be more than justifiable. She can't humblebrag her way out of this trash heap. Better luck next time, fanboys. Original Post (In which I made people rage so hard they deleted their comments): Hopefully it's better than the first book, but then any book sold in the strength of a YouTuber's audience numbers never bodes well. Still, I have been wrong before.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Navarrette

    The best thing about Truth of the Divine is the cover. Now, the cover *is* absolutely gorgeous. Truly, truly beautiful. And I wanted so badly to find within its (digital) binding a book worthy of that cover. Unfortunately, Truth of the Divine isn’t it. Truth of the Divine (by Lindsay Ellis) is the sequel to Axiom’s End and the second in a planned “Noumena” trilogy. Axiom’s End was a 2020 release and Ms. Ellis’s first novel, and that inexperience came through in that first effort; the writing was u The best thing about Truth of the Divine is the cover. Now, the cover *is* absolutely gorgeous. Truly, truly beautiful. And I wanted so badly to find within its (digital) binding a book worthy of that cover. Unfortunately, Truth of the Divine isn’t it. Truth of the Divine (by Lindsay Ellis) is the sequel to Axiom’s End and the second in a planned “Noumena” trilogy. Axiom’s End was a 2020 release and Ms. Ellis’s first novel, and that inexperience came through in that first effort; the writing was uneven, characters frequently thin, and the story could be called “tropey.” Nevertheless, I gave it three stars, and I hoped that the next volume would both see Ms. Ellis improve as a writer and flesh out some of the interesting threads found in Axiom’s End. However, after supposedly working on Axiom’s End for several years, her writing pace picked up (with this book 2 coming out in summer 2021 and book 3 coming in summer 2022) and the storyline suffered. I read a digital ARC of Truth of the Divine, provided for free by NetGalley. Because this is an ARC, I’ll assume that the typos and grammatical errors will be fixed before full release, but that won’t solve the troubles of Truth of the Divine. I’m going to try and avoid too many ____ SPOILERS, but I will say that the book goes right back to the First Contact well, swapping in a new (male) character as the main human point-of-view for much of the story, along with a new alien companion to go with him. As for our heroine from book one, most of her storyline consists of her struggling with severe trauma following the events of the last book. Perhaps that struggle could have been compelling if well-portrayed, but mostly it made the story a big bummer. The new male character’s interactions with the heroine are also extremely troubling; ultimately, while there are certainly plenty of characters to dislike, there are really very few people to root for in this book. Nils (the heroine’s absent father) remains a completely unlikeable, larger-than-life character, whose name comes up time and time and time again but who ultimely does very little. As to the overarching storyline, it’s clear that the humans’ interaction with aliens are a ham-fisted metaphor for how we treat others of different cultures—especially since the author has numerous characters make that same point multiple times—but there’s nothing new or interesting there, just variations on what we already saw in the last book. I could go on, but I think it suffices to say that I kept waiting for it to get good, and I’m still waiting. The book was really just a bummer, and it failed to offer rewarding tidbits to balance out that sense of general disappointment. As beautiful as this cover is, I won’t be getting a copy for myself, and I expect I’ll be skipping book 3.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Wow, so disappointing. After the first novel I was excited to jump into this and see how the connection evolves between Cora and Ampersand. It turned out to be a mishmash on alien factions, the nature of "humanity," introduction of new love interest Kaveh, what names we give the aliens, and the devastating impact of mental illness. Instead of writing about President Dick Cheney using government research branches to imprison and interrogate intelligent alien life, putting them on trial to prove th Wow, so disappointing. After the first novel I was excited to jump into this and see how the connection evolves between Cora and Ampersand. It turned out to be a mishmash on alien factions, the nature of "humanity," introduction of new love interest Kaveh, what names we give the aliens, and the devastating impact of mental illness. Instead of writing about President Dick Cheney using government research branches to imprison and interrogate intelligent alien life, putting them on trial to prove they deserve "human" rights, and ignorant American citizens trying to kill them, why can't authors write about the world as they think it should be? Let's see what that looks like, for a refreshing change of pace... unless it's too hard to imagine; too much work. I'm so irritated by this book I don't even feel like giving a synopsis. However, I want to mention how fantastic the voice narrators were - particularly Abigail Thorn as Cora.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book is unforgivingly bleak compared to its predecessor. It’s depressing enough to ask, beyond the pandemic and the current political climate: Lindsay, hon, are you okay? It also needs a trim as badly as I do (my post pandemic hair hangs down into my butt crack). I started getting some Heinlein vibes here too, and not in a good way. You know the parts of Heinlein’s books that just focus on his political views; just pages of diatribe that, because of their length and placement get in the way, This book is unforgivingly bleak compared to its predecessor. It’s depressing enough to ask, beyond the pandemic and the current political climate: Lindsay, hon, are you okay? It also needs a trim as badly as I do (my post pandemic hair hangs down into my butt crack). I started getting some Heinlein vibes here too, and not in a good way. You know the parts of Heinlein’s books that just focus on his political views; just pages of diatribe that, because of their length and placement get in the way, not only of the characters and action, but of his actual message. Lots of that happening in this book.I’m as liberal as an expatriate American can be, and even I found it a bit overwrought. Also the exploration of PTSD/panic attacks/intrusive thought—I think it might be harmful. I get that she puts a warning in the preface of the novel, saying that those of us with these conditions who might not yet be in a place to deal with the content should refrain from reading it. However, I kind of wonder if there is a place any of us with PTSD can be in, no matter how healthy, that this isn’t going to be a bleak as hell trigger fest. A real disappointment.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Siona St Mark

    A masterful continuation to Axiom’s End. Truly, Ellis is an amazing author for me (even tho I did struggle to get into AE initially). She has made a really sympathetic character with Cora, she’s introduced a great foil and supporting character with Kaveh (should I pronounce it to sound similar to coffee: kah-vey, or more like ka-vey-ah, I have no clue), and gives us another look into the Amygdilines (sp) with Nikola, who is also a good contrast for Ampersand/Jude. The themes of humanity/personho A masterful continuation to Axiom’s End. Truly, Ellis is an amazing author for me (even tho I did struggle to get into AE initially). She has made a really sympathetic character with Cora, she’s introduced a great foil and supporting character with Kaveh (should I pronounce it to sound similar to coffee: kah-vey, or more like ka-vey-ah, I have no clue), and gives us another look into the Amygdilines (sp) with Nikola, who is also a good contrast for Ampersand/Jude. The themes of humanity/personhood, suffering/overcoming trauma, love (and what forms of it are acceptable), and political division are evergreen, but especially poignant now. I cannot wait to see where Ellis will take the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    janel

    I received an arc. I don’t really have the capability to review this properly right now, but I’ll do my best for now so I can get points for this book for my reading challenge. Mild spoilers below, nothing plot specific. The first book teases, through the annoying perseverance of Cora’s father, that “truth is a human right” and that the alien existence on earth should be something everyone is fully privy to. The second book expands on that ideology while constantly showing the weakness of this d I received an arc. I don’t really have the capability to review this properly right now, but I’ll do my best for now so I can get points for this book for my reading challenge. Mild spoilers below, nothing plot specific. The first book teases, through the annoying perseverance of Cora’s father, that “truth is a human right” and that the alien existence on earth should be something everyone is fully privy to. The second book expands on that ideology while constantly showing the weakness of this demand, laying out the darkest tendencies of humanity that show “truth” can always be distorted when humans give into their worst instincts. I loved new additions to this. The POV for Kaveh worried me at first, wanting to spend all my time in Cora’s head. But Cora’s head isn’t a fun place in this book, and the reprieve is actually nice when Kaveh isn’t being a total man about things (some of his scenes are not fun to read and he is not a perfectly angelic character, but he’s human). His POV offers a more experienced look into the propaganda machine that Cora’s father is so fond of, and his proximity to Cora in this creates more layers. Plus he’s very charismatic and nice. There’s a character named Nikola in this that acts as an antagonist for a lot of the book, but I can’t help loving them. Nikola exists in such a different tone than Ampersand, humor and childlike curiosity leading to great moments. Even when Nikola’s desires were completely opposite of what Cora (and I) want, I understood their motivations and couldn’t hate them for disagreeing. The last 100 pages of this book, along with some parts scattered throughout, were really hard for me to read. There is a content warning at the beginning of this, so when it it published I highly recommend people check that out before they start reading. It was trust in the author from her opinions in videos that kept me confident the book would be worth its dark moments, and I was right. And now to suffer as I wait for the next book. More of a review when I can handle discussing more, probably around release since I don’t want to spoil anything for people!

  16. 4 out of 5

    J Rhodes

    Truth of the Divine is the second book in Lindsay Ellis' Noumena series. My thoughts on the first novel, Axiom's End, were fairly straightforward: a sub-par book written by an author with big ideas who'd found herself with a publishing network that so badly wanted to wring money out of her name and audience. I feel the bizarre trajectory that the review took around the Internet is important context to this review. It was far more popular than I thought it would be. Popular enough that, among othe Truth of the Divine is the second book in Lindsay Ellis' Noumena series. My thoughts on the first novel, Axiom's End, were fairly straightforward: a sub-par book written by an author with big ideas who'd found herself with a publishing network that so badly wanted to wring money out of her name and audience. I feel the bizarre trajectory that the review took around the Internet is important context to this review. It was far more popular than I thought it would be. Popular enough that, among other things, it was drawn into some weird spat between the author and alt-right personality Sargon of Akkad. No, I don't get it either. How do people who live and breathe the Internet not understand the Streisand Effect still? Anyway, before I get into the meat of this novel, as thin and stringy as it is, I'm going to do some Proper Goodreads Reviewer Chic and drop a .gif in here. Ellis, if you are reading this, and I know that you are because you read the previous one: The novel opens with a lengthy authorial note about traumatic situations, the responsibility of the artist when depicting things like self-harm and suicide, a fairly exhaustive list of potential trigger warnings within the text and the implied superiority of Ellis' work to the wildly successful and critically well-received 2018 movie A Star is Born. Like most well-meaning notes of that type from authors of Ellis' calibre, it reads more as a self-effacing attempt to stress how mature their novel is before the reader's had a chance to judge it ("especially given the relatively light tone of the first instalment of this series") than any attempt to actually act as a trigger warning. I can see why Ellis or her publisher felt such a warning was necessary because this novel does like suddenly springing some pretty wild stuff on the reader, but such occurrences struck me more as bizarre and laughable than dark and unsettling. Like being disturbed by the ludicrously over-the-top gore in Amazon's Invincible series. Still, it does raise the thought: is this a dark and mature sequel? Is this Axiom's End's Empire Strikes Back? Let's see. First, there's the matter of the 'prologue.' A fairly typical epistolary document insert that some genre authors use to try and get around fitting exposition into the story itself. But here's the thing, and I raise this only because it's advice I've heard from editors, why are you opening your novel with this boring dry textbook-esque exposition instead of just leaping into the story? Anyway, the novel has four of those, and two of them are straightforward excerpts from United Nations documentation. Is this an academic essay or a story? Oh, and that's just the ones at the start of the novel. The first part of Truth of the Divine--hereafter TotD--is "It's A Fool Who Plays It Cool" which might be a perfect summary of the book but not in the way the author intended. The book is divided into four parts in total, and each has a title that lands well short of the profundity it's shooting for. The story itself is similar to the first as far as prose is concerned. I commented on the weak, amateurish prose in my review of the first novel and so won't go too much into it this time. The second novel's text may be slightly better, credit to Ellis, but it certainly isn't good. On the very first page of the story itself, we get the following: "The fluorescent lights in this conference room were the frequency of knives." Knives don't have a frequency in either meaning of the term (unless, perhaps, there's a stylish knife block atop the conference room table.) What Ellis means to say is something like 'The hum of the fluorescent lights was like a knife in Cora's brain.' Unfortunately, the same paragraph explains that Cora is in a 'mind fog' implying boredom, tiredness or disinterest which doesn't really gel with the painful knife metaphor--but, hey, who's counting awkward prose at this point? Even shuffling so much exposition into those documents has done nothing for the actual story, the first few chapters are a clunky mess that practically recounts the events of the first novel and the worldbuilding contained therein. Cora is the sole intermediary between the aliens and they don't want to talk with the government. Meanwhile, people wonder whether human rights can apply to non-human beings with all the intelligence and perceptive wit of a middle school humanities debate. It all sets the tone of the whole novel. The plot plods along, interspersed with panic attacks and navel-gazing about human rights, and there were more than a few sections I had to read more than once to make sure I understood what was being said and/or be sure I hadn't missed anything. By the end of it, I wasn't sure anything had really happened. Anyway, the Transformers inspiration remains clear, too. I know some people, including the author herself, have taken umbrage with reviews that point this out. I know, specifically, that the comparison to Michael Bay's Transformers has made a lot of people wail and gnash their teeth and call me a psychopath. But here's the thing--it isn't a hard comparison to draw, and it's very apparent in the first few chapters of TotD, too. See, Cora Sabino essentially operates in the same position as Sam Witwicky does in the Michael Bay films, that is, she's the sole liaison between humanity and an alien species which seemingly cooperates with the government at their own volition. What Ellis has written feels like--and I can't believe I'm saying this--gender-swapped AU fixfic. Where Bay took the interesting tack of making Witwicky's status an irrelevant joke that can't even help him get an office job, Ellis' attempt at the same idea lacks any kind of subversive edge and she veers between being bored about her security clearance job and terrified that they'll take it away from her. Instead of Witwicky's entitlement and toxic masculinity driving him into psychotic break culminating in killing someone he thinks is his romantic rival, we get maudlin panic attacks and a relationship (sorry, "fusion bond") between a woman and an alien that feels far creepier than the author intended it. "Dear one, come to me," Ampersand says like he's trying to lure Cora into an unmarked van. And just how many times is Cora going to get injected with a syringe? (view spoiler)[(Should I bring up the robotic inventor of a folding space invention who may or may not be on the level suddenly introduced into the story by the name of Sentinel Prime-- Sorry, Nikola? Yes, that's a direct reference to Nikola Tesla. "A deal had to be made." "I have made an arrangement.") (hide spoiler)] As the story went on, I was also reminded of a particular episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Measure of a Man, when the humans meet with two members of the Fremda group. But, like the Transformers inspiration, the scene felt derivative instead of feeling like it's commentating on whatever inspired this work, which is kind of my big issue with TotD. Like, there's been a wealth of media about personhood, aliens, robots, and how humanity can relate to such things and if human rights depend on some statistical range of human capability. I remain baffled whenever an author dives into such a thoroughly explored ravine with thoughts that amount to, well, we can't call them by white people names because the world will think we're white supremacists. I don't think Ellis really has any serious arguments for or against these themes which is why it's just prosaic pabulum after prosaic pabulum. I feel like you could write a whole critique of this novel just based on how Americentric this text is, this novel that says America represents the whole of humanity. (view spoiler)[And that's without touching on the trite secularism of the titular truth of the Divine, either. I really hope the author didn't think 'the Divine is what they call God' is clever, especially with the hasty clarifier that there's nothing religious about it, it's all knowable science. Practically one step removed from that infamous /r/athiest euphoric copypasta. Pray tell, dear author, what is religion without divinity? What is a god without religion? What is secular divinity? (hide spoiler)] I really don't want to say too much, if only because I'm repeating myself and don't really have much to say that I haven't already said and if I don't cut myself off I'll be yanking on every single thread in the tapestry--plot, character, themes, and worldbuilding. Truth of the Divine is Axiom's End 2 for everything that means. As mentioned, Ellis' writing is actually a bit better in the sense it's not so obviously bad, but it's not a distinct, marked improvement. The mental anguish Cora goes through as a consequence of the events of the first novel is more melodramatic than anything else, and it's exacerbated by that authorial note which makes you wonder if the author thinks it is incredible writing. The usage of things like Facebook posts, fake news articles, text messages, and email chains as worldbuilding and secondary plot telling is fairly unbearable. Any kind of sci-fi multidimensional theorizing remains pat and bland where you're not sure if the author skimmed Wikipedia while writing the sections in question or didn't and thinks they're onto something original and thought-provoking. As an aside, and I bring this up only because of that authorial note about responsibility, but I found the times Kaveh would bring up globalists, anti-Semitism, or whatever else that was intended to make the novel 'relevant' a choice that I'm not sure is really that responsible. I'm reminded of the web serial Worm where the protagonist, Taylor, would display an exhaustive knowledge of Nazi beliefs and iconography, some of it quite obscure, despite frequently not understanding really basic things. This is seemingly done to enlighten the audience to the secret messages they use, educating them in ways those types cloak themselves, yadda yadda--but all you really get out of it is, like, an introductory lesson/primer in neo-Nazi iconography and beliefs. So, Kaveh will reflect 'When they say globalists, they mean Jews, this is anti-Semitism' in the same page he wonders like, oh, maybe they don't get that they're fascists. Is this novel dealing with the reactionary elements of 2007 or 2021? Does the author comprehend the difference? While not quite as odious as the first novel, TotD continues the trend where it's unclear why this novel was set in 2007 in the first place. Somehow Bay's Transformers series provides more interesting commentary on that era by making the Autobots tools of American hegemony who blow up Middle Eastern nuclear research operations and also the Pyramids while talking about how freedom is everyone's right. (view spoiler)[I feel like I should really stress that this is a novel that has the gall to talk up American exceptionalism when it's set in the time period where the American government was waging an unjust war for oil leading to the deaths of so many innocents. Where's that authorial responsibility? You want to write a book about trauma? The slighted ego of the American people led to a bloody swath being cut across the Middle East, decades of war that the world is still recovering from, veterans who gave their lives or took them... the list goes on! In TotD, every country in the world (including China) is looking to America to lead the way and set an example in a time period where America defied the international community and led the way to atrocity and bloodshed. The words Iraq and Afghanistan show up once each. (hide spoiler)] Speaking of Kaveh, he's actually somewhat more interesting than Cora, although the fact it feels like he and Nikola are repeating the first novel was a big letdown. And the kinda-sorta love triangle between him, Cora and Ampersand is... an odd choice. I don't mean in practice--the second book in most YA series introduces a love triangle, of course. But it's more... Look, yet again, a sci-fi author dabbles with something transgressive and weird then walks it back to something safe. You end up with a message that's basically, hey, it might be fun to fool around with one of those aliens-we're-using-as-a-metaphor-for-other-ethnicities, but... The one thing I hoped to get from this novel is the one thing I hope to get from Transformers, a weird-ass relationship between a human and a bizarre lifeform. Oh well! (view spoiler)[Kaveh's ultimate fate also doesn't exactly land well, and just kind of exacerbates the issues of the above paragraphs--you've introduced perhaps your best character, set up a love triangle, and then shot him in the head. It felt exceptionally cheap. Great. If the third book follows the trend of this one, we'll spend most of the book with Cora mentally lamenting that death and trying to process that trauma. (hide spoiler)] Earlier, I raised the idea that the novel was setting itself up as The Empire Strikes Back--dark and gritty and mature. Upon reflection, I think it's closer to The Last Jedi. Better than the film that preceded it but certainly not good and not so much a failure of the text in question as it is the compounding failure of the previous instalment it was built upon. A text that seems profound but is just kinda banal, where it feels like the author is unaware of the wider corpus of fiction that's handled similar themes. Ellis' writing is better than the first novel, true, but still short of what I'd consider passable. If Axiom's End was one star, Truth of the Divine is about one and a half. My impression is a novel that'll do nothing to sway people who didn't like the first and will surely alienate a number of people who enjoyed the first. My curiosity into Ellis' creative skill is sated. I will not be reading the third. It's nice to see Ellis put out a better book than her first, whether that stems from increased editorial oversight or more attention on her own craft, but so much of it feels like it's tied up in a desire to be taken seriously as a mature writer who writes about trauma and not space aliens but with the same energy and intensity as someone who writes 'mature' fanfiction on ao3. There's no truth in this supposed divinity and certainly no insight. Ultimately, whatever support the editorial staff gave Ellis for this book is what they owed her for her debut novel.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Truth of the Divine picks up just after the events in the first book, Axiom's End. So, Truth of the Divine is still really a closely continued first contact story. Less Science Fiction and more metaphysical and theological pondering, but with non-humanoid aliens and their own beliefs thrown in. There is a lot of information from and references to events in Axiom's End that Ellis doesn't rehash, so going into this really does require the reader to have read the first book. We still get Cora Sabin Truth of the Divine picks up just after the events in the first book, Axiom's End. So, Truth of the Divine is still really a closely continued first contact story. Less Science Fiction and more metaphysical and theological pondering, but with non-humanoid aliens and their own beliefs thrown in. There is a lot of information from and references to events in Axiom's End that Ellis doesn't rehash, so going into this really does require the reader to have read the first book. We still get Cora Sabino's perspective, but the other point of view comes from a new character, Kaveh Mazandarani, an author and journalist who has unfortunately worked with Cora's outlaw father Nils before. Cora, who acted as an intermediary for the main alien being, Ampersand, in Axiom's End is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder here, and dealing with it badly. At first, I was rather reluctant to add Kaveh to the mix; I'm not someone who loves a story with a roundtable of narrators. However, my reluctance proved to be unwarranted — as at some parts I liked Kaveh's point-of-view to the point of preferring his chapters. Cora, on the other hand, and her PTSD was a little draining. Ellis carefully managed this in a way that was rather distressing and impactful, but never felt exploitative or like a fill-in-the-blank disorder. I think the main issue with Cora's trauma is just part of the main issue with this second book, overall. Not wholly suffering from second book syndrome, Truth of the Divine is just over a hundred pages longer than Axiom's End — and it feels every bit of it. Ellis has given herself more room here, but the pacing doesn't keep up. It's a bit too plodding and the plot's timeline is surprisingly slow — covering a really short amount of time for most of the book. This is where Cora's trauma gets a bit too weighed down, while also somehow encouraging a quickly-paced romantic entanglement. Also, there's not enough Ampersand, but there is more Enola/Nikola, the new alien being in town, an amygdaline like Ampersand and the others from Axiom's End. Kaveh ends up acting as Nikola's interpreter/intermediary and Nikola has a lot to say and share. This only proved to be another spot that, while held a plethora of interesting connections and ideas, could've stood a paring down. And while large swaths of Truth of the Divine were rather skimmable, this book does delve a satisfying amount into the timely and appropriate question for its own narrative: What constitutes a being to be defined as a person? I'm definitely invested enough to come back next year for the finale in this trilogy. I'm not sure where Ellis is going to take this one, but I'm excited to see what she has for the end of it. P.S. If no other book I read this year contains any reference to Occam's razor, I will be thankful — that and the also-overused Schrödinger's cat references. I'm calling it; that's enough. I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This affected neither my opinion of the book, nor the content of my review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh Brown

    It's a struggle to review this because I can't reach for pithy analog. This isn't Twilight: New Moon meets The Host. This isn't E.T. or District 9. Lindsay's distinct voice has carved an entirely new path, and it is not fun. This book takes the tension from the ending of Axiom's End and draws it across all 57 chapters. Like Uncut Gems, I had several moments where I struggled to breathe, where I was hoping for a break in suffering, in the pain. That's the other struggle I have - it's exceptionall It's a struggle to review this because I can't reach for pithy analog. This isn't Twilight: New Moon meets The Host. This isn't E.T. or District 9. Lindsay's distinct voice has carved an entirely new path, and it is not fun. This book takes the tension from the ending of Axiom's End and draws it across all 57 chapters. Like Uncut Gems, I had several moments where I struggled to breathe, where I was hoping for a break in suffering, in the pain. That's the other struggle I have - it's exceptionally well written. Even as I keep hoping for relief, I can't help but admire the craft that made it so hard to endure in the first place. Like dragging myself across broken stained glass, it was beautiful and unpleasant all at once. If you can handle anxiety, if you have ways to cope when the very words are pouring into you and filling your lungs, if you want to see if Cora and Ampersand make any headway, then I heartily recommend this book. Don't wait for paperback. Be careful if you can't. Do not pretend you haven't been warned, especially in a spiteful one star review. I also confess, I may not have been in Cora's shoes, but I *have* been in the shoes of another person, added in this book, when helping someone who has more trauma and PTSD than they know what to do to help. The feeling like everything you do is wrong, that you're trying to bail out a lifeboat with a thimble. It hit me personally, and it cements my opinion that whether from experience or research, Ellis has done the legwork to bring these people to life. Truth of the Divine is not for everyone, but it was for me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Wow 🤯 what an incredible book. I’m not sure where to start with this review because this book defies its genre, I learned more about mental health and the human condition than I did about outer space. This was a huge step up from the first book and was MUCH more intense. The character development is so rich and their relationships were expertly and deeply portrayed. This really can’t compare to anything I’ve read recently, I’m fumbling for other things to say that don’t spoil the plot because so Wow 🤯 what an incredible book. I’m not sure where to start with this review because this book defies its genre, I learned more about mental health and the human condition than I did about outer space. This was a huge step up from the first book and was MUCH more intense. The character development is so rich and their relationships were expertly and deeply portrayed. This really can’t compare to anything I’ve read recently, I’m fumbling for other things to say that don’t spoil the plot because so much of the plot is dependent on the issues the characters and society grapples with. I’ll try to add more once I’ve digested this story. Big thank you to the publisher for this ARC.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Thanks so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Lindsay Ellis for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! I adored this book for a multitude of reasons. Does it have flaws? Surely. That doesn’t change the fact that this story is filled with heart. Truth of the Divine, at least to me, was a strong follow up to Axiom’s End. There are so many issues covered in between these pages (which does have a trigger warning in the beginning due to writing about suicide and mental health) that this b Thanks so much to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Lindsay Ellis for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! I adored this book for a multitude of reasons. Does it have flaws? Surely. That doesn’t change the fact that this story is filled with heart. Truth of the Divine, at least to me, was a strong follow up to Axiom’s End. There are so many issues covered in between these pages (which does have a trigger warning in the beginning due to writing about suicide and mental health) that this becomes so much more than a book about aliens and the inability of humanity to adapt to that which makes them uncomfortable or confused. Naturally, we will not handle aliens well on a grand scale because so many humans don’t even really understand how to deal with differences here on Earth. Ellis takes us deeper into the emotions of both humanity and alien alike to show that, yes, there are differences, but none so vast as to be insurmountable. There’s a lot to be said for being an open-minded being. I was looking forward to this book in a big-time kind of way, and I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed. I’m so beyond ready for the third book already! Is it out yet??!?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Iman

    Ok, full (spoilery) disclosure? I liked the first book better than this one. Yes, I was still interested in the story and what was gonna happen but I was let down by the POV change in this one. I wanted more of Cora and Ampersand. I get that this was probably a way of doing the whole "show, not tell" thing, but I really wanted to be in Cora's head while she was dealing with her PTSD, grief and separation from Ampersand. (Maybe that's the masochist in me but I really wanted to be IN her head for Ok, full (spoilery) disclosure? I liked the first book better than this one. Yes, I was still interested in the story and what was gonna happen but I was let down by the POV change in this one. I wanted more of Cora and Ampersand. I get that this was probably a way of doing the whole "show, not tell" thing, but I really wanted to be in Cora's head while she was dealing with her PTSD, grief and separation from Ampersand. (Maybe that's the masochist in me but I really wanted to be IN her head for the whole book.) Instead we mostly saw Cora's mental deterioration through the perspective of a male love interest...a much OLDER male love interest. Now, I did like Kaveh, but not at the expense of Cora's POV. I might have liked it more if the book had alternated between them for every chapter, not start off with Cora and then basically have Kaveh take over until almost the end. I'm gonna have to give this one a 2.5 because I had more gripes than praises. I will read the third book, but I'm not on the edge of my seat waiting for it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Hohn

    In recognition that I read an ARC and thus most people won’t have had an opportunity to read the book yet, I will keep this review vague. I feel like the core concept in this book is monsterization, and the word monster is used to describe feelings of self-disgust more often than it’s weaponized against others. This book is about shame, and feeling like there is no future for humanity— or if there is, it is so drastically different that it will be unrecognizable. I feel that now without the aliens In recognition that I read an ARC and thus most people won’t have had an opportunity to read the book yet, I will keep this review vague. I feel like the core concept in this book is monsterization, and the word monster is used to describe feelings of self-disgust more often than it’s weaponized against others. This book is about shame, and feeling like there is no future for humanity— or if there is, it is so drastically different that it will be unrecognizable. I feel that now without the aliens, so, I mean, relatable. A few moments of levity (your classic Cheese Cake Factory jokes), but overall this is a heavy book. Well executed, and hopeful in its own ways, but definitely not a light read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Unfortunately I DNF this book at about 30%. While Axiom's End was not my favorite of all time, I did enjoy it and was looking forward to the sequel. I found this book to be very different and did not feel any of the danger/tension that there was in Axiom's End. The writing and timelines felt a bit disjointed and there were too many things going on for me to be invested in any of them. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the e-ARC. Unfortunately I DNF this book at about 30%. While Axiom's End was not my favorite of all time, I did enjoy it and was looking forward to the sequel. I found this book to be very different and did not feel any of the danger/tension that there was in Axiom's End. The writing and timelines felt a bit disjointed and there were too many things going on for me to be invested in any of them. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the e-ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    DaniLanglie

    Wow I have... thoughts. This book was confusing to me on so many levels, and I've got to say I was utterly engaged and really connected to what was happening the whole way through, so this book does NOT commit the cardinal sin of being boring, I'll give it that much. I'd much rather read something like this, that had some stuff I wasn't happy with at all, but at least kept my interest, as opposed to something boring but perhaps more altogether competent. Lindsay Ellis is a writer I trust when it Wow I have... thoughts. This book was confusing to me on so many levels, and I've got to say I was utterly engaged and really connected to what was happening the whole way through, so this book does NOT commit the cardinal sin of being boring, I'll give it that much. I'd much rather read something like this, that had some stuff I wasn't happy with at all, but at least kept my interest, as opposed to something boring but perhaps more altogether competent. Lindsay Ellis is a writer I trust when it comes to her film criticism. In fact, I trust her so much, I know her to be such a smart and thoughtful person, that I think I actually made the experience of this book worse for myself in a lot of ways by assuming she had some clever idea that would make certain aspects of this story make sense, and then when it turned out I was wrong, the disappointment hit all the stronger. The main aspect I'm talking about here is Cora and Kaveh's nauseatingly stupid romantic relationship. I could not stomach a single second of these two falling in love or whatever. I really like Kaveh. I think he's a cool interesting character with a new perspective, bringing some badly needed fresh eyes to the situation. I even liked the idea of Cora and Kaveh forming an intense and complicated bond because of the absolutely bizarre and unprecedented situation they found themselves in. I was completely on board for watching this weird friendship grow over the course of the book. Even the idea of Cora having a crush on Kaveh I thought was amusing and made sense. After all, she's young and under a lot of stress, and has essentially been abandoned by every support system she's ever known. But when it comes to their actual... "romance"? It was so bland and unspecific and uncomfortable and honestly felt completely unnecessary. The story could have hit the exact same beats without making anything between them romantic or sexual. I felt convinced by Kaveh and Cora as two complex human beings, as friends, as people who would have a great need for each other under unimaginable stresses. But I found the idea of them falling in love completely unconvincing the way it was presented here. Then there's the big ending spoilers, which I'll hide... (view spoiler)[Kaveh dies. Honestly, I was really surprised but not necessarily in a bad way that the story had taken such a turn, but it also made me feel really frustrated, because the romance with Cora and Kaveh seemed even more pointless and badly developed in retrospect. If Kaveh is a character we lose after only one book in the series, I'm even more angry that we wasted any of our time with him on having sex with Cora or whatever. Honestly, when Kaveh died I had this moment where I thought "oh my god, Lindsay's a genius, I see where this is going." Let me explain. So, you see, earlier in the book, Ampersand tells Cora that it would be possible for humans to become post-natural and speak High Language. We also have an ongoing situation where Obelus, a frightening villain from the first book, is still alive and in a different body than before, Ampersand having saved him unbeknownst to Cora. At the end of the book, during the climax in which Kaveh loses his life, Ampersand is attempting to procure Obelus' old body, ostensibly with the intention of putting his consciousness back inside it. So I saw these two things and I thought "ohh my god, they're going to save Kaveh by putting his consciousness into an amigdaline body." I read the last few chapters with bated breath, thinking about all the ramifications. Cora's canonical love for Ampersand and Kaveh, the way she feels insecure in the face of that love, even disgusted with herself for this love she bears for an alien. Ideas of personhood, the highlight of the novel for me, now given new shape by the question of what post-natural humanity might be. I felt sure that was where it was going, and then... no. Kaveh is just dead, and the last we hear from him is an insultingly trite essay about how humanity's hubris might be its downfall. (hide spoiler)] I should be fair and say that part of why this book disappointed me is that I wanted it to be something it was never trying to be. The personhood debate and all the ways in which the various government agencies were trying to make decisions, meanwhile the aliens had their own priorities and relationship drama, that was the stuff that was by far the most interesting to me. When we got to see glimpses of the senate hearing about the "third option" question of assigning personhood to non-alien beings, I sat up straighter in my seat. I wanted a whole damn transcript of that shit. I love seeing Lindsay work out a debate on a serious philosophical topic through her prose, even if those prose aren't the strongest in the world. But instead, the book was a lot about Cora's inner emotional life, and her romance with Kaveh, and... well... I just didn't find that stuff nearly as compelling. I did admire the way Ellis wrote Cora's trauma and panic attacks, I thought it was effective and pervasive, but I kept wanting to turn back to the political and social commentary aspect of the novel. At the same time, reading that ending article by Kaveh was a tough pill to swallow in today's world. I don't think Lindsay said anything about humanity's tendency towards bigotry or nationalism or jingoism that hasn't already been talked to death, and then the novel ends on this uncomfortable downer of a note that provides no real solutions for the future. I know this is a function of a series, that this isn't where we're going to leave this world or this story, but it was still not exactly a pleasant reading experience there at the end, nor did it feel like it was treading particularly new ground. One last note - I found the woman who read Cora's parts in the audiobook to be pretty fucking unbearable. Kaveh's voice did the normal audiobook thing of acting out the emotions but in a muted way that more accurately mimics the rhythm of a person reading to themselves, which I liked. The Cora voice was, by contrast *so* overacted. The shrill, harsh breathing during the panic attack scenes in particular was just... so grating to hear through headphones and completely pulled me out of the rhythm of the text. It's just overdone and needed to be pulled back by a good 50% almost the whole way through, in my opinion. I also remember this from the first book, that her voice takes on this weird sense of incomprehension or incredulity in moments that make no sense. It's hard to describe but perhaps if someone reads this they'll be able to say it better. There will be a sentence like... "Cora couldn't breathe." And the performance will make it sound like: "Cora... couldn't... brEATHE?!?!?" almost turning it into this disbelieving question or something. Super obnoxious. I might need to read future books as hard copies, which annoys me since I tend to pick series and then either do all physical copies, or all audio, and now this one's all messed up for me. But that's a me problem, to be honest! So yeah, I think this book gets only three stars from me because I had higher hopes for its theming, since I love Lindsay so much. I think this book is better written than the first, I think the author has become stronger in her prose and more confident in taking risks with the narrative. But honestly, the first book in the series had more of the stuff I liked, the political drama, the in and outs of the government's systems, the alternate history spinning off from this remarkable first contact point of diversion... this sequel contained all of those aspects too, which is why I was still gripped and wanted to know what came next. But the personal romance plot, the oft-belabored psychological effects of trauma on Cora's mind, etc. etc. all overshadowed the things I loved best, and it made the book a worse experience, at least for this reader.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brian Gang

    When I originally picked up Lindsay Ellis's "Axiom's End" last year, I was excited and terrified at the same time. I had been dealing with some serious MH issues and my focus and concentration were such that I hadn't read a book in three years. Thankfully, my excitement won out and I devoured it, essentially in one sitting. As such, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to read the follow up novel, "Truth of the Divine" before it released. And it blew me away. "Truth of the Divine" pic When I originally picked up Lindsay Ellis's "Axiom's End" last year, I was excited and terrified at the same time. I had been dealing with some serious MH issues and my focus and concentration were such that I hadn't read a book in three years. Thankfully, my excitement won out and I devoured it, essentially in one sitting. As such, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to read the follow up novel, "Truth of the Divine" before it released. And it blew me away. "Truth of the Divine" picks up in the weeks and months after Cora and Ampersand's confrontation with Obelus and their Simmilars and puts us in the mind of Cora while she is becoming utterly overwhelmed by trauma and the emotional fluency between her and Ampersand, and takes off from there, exploring the "politics on the ground" of first contact in the same way that "Axiom's End" dealt with the fallout at the highest levels (albeit in the background). It works tremendously well and offers painful parallels between the weaponization of fear in the fictional late oughts and the last six years of stranger-than-fiction that we've lived thorough. We're also given an additional point of view character adjacent to Cora that lets the reader get another perspective on her very personal struggles, the political situation and what it means to be a point of contact for an ETI. The tapestry of the novel is tightly woven, and to paraphrase the pull quote from the cover, achieves the rare feat of making the original better, not by fixing plotholes, but by genuinely expanding the universe and characterizations in a way that makes you reexamine the relationships in and plot of "Axiom's End." I offer an almost unqualified recommendation, but with a gentle content warning: this book is incredibly heavy and gets deep into mental and behavioral health issues, the different ways we are traumatized and the myriad ways we do it don't deal with them. It explorers themes of trauma, codependency, familial pressure, betrayal, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, fear mongering and what personhood means. For me this was a wonderful, if devastating, experience that truly made me feel seen in a way that novels rarely do. If any of that appeals to you, pre-order it now and get your hands on it as soon as you can. It might hurt, but it certainly will not disappoint.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elsie Birnbaum

    I was given an eArc of this book by NetGalley in exchange for a honest review but let's be honest may or may not have built an internet presence as a reviewer to get early access to this book. I've wanted to read the sequel since I finished Axiom's End. And oh boy did this book not disappoint. Ellis once again shows her ability to take narrative conventions of the "First Contact" story and both deconstruct and reconstruct them in a way that is original and compelling. Every time I thought the st I was given an eArc of this book by NetGalley in exchange for a honest review but let's be honest may or may not have built an internet presence as a reviewer to get early access to this book. I've wanted to read the sequel since I finished Axiom's End. And oh boy did this book not disappoint. Ellis once again shows her ability to take narrative conventions of the "First Contact" story and both deconstruct and reconstruct them in a way that is original and compelling. Every time I thought the story was doing something cliché the story would take a hard turn. Frankly, Truth of the Divine blows Axiom's End out of the water. Where Axiom's End is an original take on stories like the Transformers movies, Truth of the Divine is an honest look at trauma and self harming urges. The book gets what it's like to want to die in a way that I've only seen in fan fiction previously (this is high praise). The politics of personhood are thoroughly explored and the Third Option movement is a deeply realistic look at what the response to the existence of aliens would look like. This book moved me to tears and is my new favorite book of the year.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    If it is as bad as the first book, don't bother. If it is as bad as the first book, don't bother.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lanny Zimmerman Holley

    Having finished reading an advanced copy, and not wanting to post any spoiler, I will only say that this second book in the Noumena series is INTENSE! And I loved it!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Permanently_Booked

    I hate when this happens but sometimes life gets so busy that the book you start ends up having to be put down. Luckily, I had my trusty Audible swing through with a monthly credit and I was able to finish this one on audio. There are a lot of mixed reviews and I happily fall into the adoring it category. While Axiom's End holds my heart, Truth of the Divine answered a lot of the questions left from that novel. It also broadened the alien horizons so to speak and brought more emotional feeling i I hate when this happens but sometimes life gets so busy that the book you start ends up having to be put down. Luckily, I had my trusty Audible swing through with a monthly credit and I was able to finish this one on audio. There are a lot of mixed reviews and I happily fall into the adoring it category. While Axiom's End holds my heart, Truth of the Divine answered a lot of the questions left from that novel. It also broadened the alien horizons so to speak and brought more emotional feeling into this one. I love the fact that the old characters are still part of this novel and the new characters were just as fleshed out and easy to adore. Though the plot intrigues me, it is truly the characters that make this series for me. It's that humanistic touch and extra-terrestrial horror and captivation that pulls you in. There are trigger warnings and a beautiful opening by the author on those topics. I think Ellis expertly weaves mental health and it's debilitations into the story in a heartfelt and deeply thought out manner. Let's not forget the debate over alien rights that had far reaching problematic issues. I love how in-depth Ellis takes not only the scientific but the humane. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the gifted copy from Shelf Awareness and to Macmillan Audio for bringing a cast of narrators together to bring this novel to life. I'd ecommend this series to those who enjoy alien encounters with slow building plots, amazing characters and realistically crafted human responses and actions. All thoughts are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Johnathan Miller

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ellis confessed in a video that she resorted to using third-party editors *before* she sent this to her publisher, which, for traditionally published authors, is *extremely* uncommon, and would seem to be indicative of her overall writing ability. If her prose skills here show improvement, we can safely say that it is due to a pay-to-play system of publishing that simply throws money at a text until it is readable. Putting that aside, I still can't shake the fanfiction makeup and tone of this se Ellis confessed in a video that she resorted to using third-party editors *before* she sent this to her publisher, which, for traditionally published authors, is *extremely* uncommon, and would seem to be indicative of her overall writing ability. If her prose skills here show improvement, we can safely say that it is due to a pay-to-play system of publishing that simply throws money at a text until it is readable. Putting that aside, I still can't shake the fanfiction makeup and tone of this series, but it was original enough that I actually finished reading it, mostly out of morbid curiosity as to just how poorly the inevitable cliffhanger would be setup. If my library had not allowed me to borrow this book, I would not have read it. I suppose if you've got some time to waste and don't have to pay for it, it might be worth a look? Probably not, though. The "truth" is that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Don't waste your time reeling this sucker in.

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