Earth has been collaborating with powerful aliens and living with them for a century (after the war). Donovan’s father is the Prime Liason with the combined alien-human government, and Donovan himself is an Exo, a human that has erze cells implanted in him since he was 5 years old. This process is called the “Hardening” because it gives him an alien exoskeleton that he can retract, and allows for him to self-regenerate if injured. His mother left when he was five years old, so it has just been him, his dad, his alien advisor, and his teammates for most of his upbringing.
Donovan and his best friend Jet found a young boy on a playground, and after making small talk with him and gaining his trust he reveals that his uncle has stacks of papers from Max. Max is a writer of many pamphlets for the insurgent group that the SecPac army must control. They hate the idea of aliens controlling any part of Earth, think that the Exos are disgusting hybrids, and are trying to get the humans in the regular society to rise up and take back Earth for humans. Donovan and Jet have to confront the man alone as the reinforcements are across town, but they think that they can handle it. However, they were set up, shooters are places on the roof of the houses on the street, and Donovan and Jet are attacked as they try to escape and wait for the reinforceemnts. Jet escapes, but Donovan is taken as a hostage for the insurgent group.
This book is made interesting by having a 17 year old main character that is a part of the army. He is told by the people he is surrounded by that he is to be on the side of the aliens and that the insurgents are only trying to destroy their society. However, the more time he spends with the insurgents, the more he reconsiders some thoughts about his society. In his time alone, he also thinks about how painful the Hardening process was, and how many people simply brushed off the fact that it was basically torture to a five year old and that some did not even survive the ordeal.
He also comes to terms with what actually determines if a person is human or not. The people who belong to the Sapience insurgent group think that he isn’t fully human because of his alien DNA, but he believes that the exoskeleton does not affect his brain, only his body. It brings up an amazing argument that continues throughout the book, and in the reader’s minds as well.
I truly enjoyed this amazing ride of a book. Although it was a bit slow in the beginning, it definitely picked up speed until I felt as if I flew through the middle and the end. It had some romance but nothing over the top and nothing that interfered with the plot. It was unique, showing a world with humans divided on whether or not to accept aliens, and human alien hybrids being accepted in most society but rejected by the “insurgents”. I hope to read more by this author soon.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5