Those expecting a fantastical journey across the stars will be surprised by how true-to-life the characters, multicultural society, and story feel. Mackay’s Earth is startlingly realistic, and so are the responses to the Lumenarians’ arrival; one particularly powerful subplot deals with human xenophobia in the face of alien life. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers craving the next installment in McKay’s planned five-book series.
Readers will laugh out loud at the quick-witted internal monologues of the book’s likeable protagonists, as well as at the clever cultural references peppered throughout. Even readers who don’t think they’re into science fiction will find much to love in this novel, from its heartwarming relationships to its masterful interweaving of Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner alongside laser battles and space travel. The Albatross succeeds as both an adventure and as thoughtful social commentary.
Takeaway: Clever writing meets heart-pounding plot twists in this must-read science fiction epic.
Great for fans of: Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Ursula K. Le Guin.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+