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Publisher's Summary

The instant New York Times best seller

The alternate-history first-contact adventure Axiom's End is an extraordinary debut from Hugo finalist and video essayist Lindsay Ellis. Truth is a human right.

It's fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn't spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the internet, the paparazzi, and the government - and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father's leaks are a hoax and wants nothing to do with him - until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades.

Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human - and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press 

"Axiom’s End is one of the most unique science fiction novels in years. It’s a heartfelt story of alien first contact, but, luckily, unlike so many 'big idea' sci-fi books, it’s utterly unpretentious." (SYFY.com)

©2020 Lindsay Ellis (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about Axiom's End

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Short Circuit w Aliens?

I mean that in a good way. I imagine this was probably a pretty hard sell for Ellis. I imagine a publisher looking at this and asking "whos the target audience?". As a 37 year old male who loves deep sci fi of the likes of Dune, the initial impression was that this was made for a different reader than myself. A much younger one, but I was surprised at how dramatically the story gears up and becomes quite engaging by the end. I found myself pausing it frequently in the last act, waiting till the next day, the next drive to follow up on the latest events, not wanting it to end. There are many revelations and touching moments by the end which were very rewarding.

The highlight of the novel is undoubtedly the relationship of Cora and Ampersand. It feels oddly believable and entertaining, and the story felt lacking until they met one another. In fact, the beginning was a little weak. Ive seen other reviews comment on the lack of background on Cora, but I really dont feel like thats necessary. Its not that kind of story, its about their relationship. What did Romeo do before he met Juliet? Who cares? I actually felt like the character was established by just a few pages, and further back story would have weighed it down further. But once it sheds the dead weight of introduction, the story takes off.

I loved the aliens. They were extremely well written. I always "leaned in" when they were present. They were simultaneously vulnerable and omnipotent. Terrifying, yet scared. The concepts discussed were always intriguing. The realities of what an advanced race would do, could do, to a population like our own were clearly demonstrated.

Overall this was an enjoyable book from a first time author. Perhaps it is intimate knowledge of her channel, or knowing how difficult it is become published that let me ignore some weaker aspects of the book. But theres no denying that by the end I was deeply hooked. This novel felt like an avalanche to me, slowly building and building in momentum and impact. I look forward to a sequel or other novels by Ellis.

44 people found this helpful

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a tedious story even more tediously narrated

this reviewed well however after an hour I found I was skipping to the end of chapters as the story progression was incredibly slow, even worse the narrator was speaking so slowly seemingly trying to build tension with elongated pauses. speeding the app read speed up to 1.4 helped but after 2 hours the story just wasn't engaging enough. I think I was expecting more sci-fi and less 'days of our lives' drama.

39 people found this helpful

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A Well Done Character Driven First-Contact Story

This is a great debut book, not filled with the usual traps a lot of first-time authors fall into. It's not a spoiler to say it's a first-contact story. We sci-fi fans read a lot of those and so few stand out. Axiom's End stands out because it's an epic story with so much personality you find yourself caring. It's a character-driven story that brings up so many interesting questions about life, ethics, love. Lindsay Ellis has some balls imagining this story at a specific period of time we will all recognize and going "what if this happened.) At first, the time-period seems innocuous and for a few pages, you worry a story like this could become dated. But as the story plays out and you're carried along the journey with the protagonist you realize that this is one of those stories that might last the test time. We've got ourselves a fresh face in science fiction and can't wait to see what other things she has in store for us in the future.

Fan note: If you know Linsay Eliis work, get ready to crack up at a reference you just know she sat with her manuscript and went "I HAVE to put this in here." And it worked.

32 people found this helpful

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Not usually a sci fi fan but...

That was the wildest ride I’ve been on in my most recent memory and it’s 2020

25 people found this helpful

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The narrator’s whiny voice is grating

4 hours in and she will not relent on being a shivering, nervous victim tone!

22 people found this helpful

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Overly dramatic narrator

I couldn't finish this one. The narration was driving me nuts. Everything was a crisis. Ms Willis needs some valium. Ugh.

16 people found this helpful

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More than surface level sci-fi

This is not a story set in a sci-fi setting, it's more like the classics where it takes your reality and explores would happen if X was introduced. The book did not only deal with both the immediate response and the long term effects but also a expanding viewpoint after the realization.
Another point on the book not beeing surface level: it feels like the world already exsists and we are just takeing a peek into it, knowing there is much more behind the veil.
The world feels realistic. I can see how this could have happened in reality.

The narrator did a good job portraying emotions through the robot voice but there were instances when there was lot of robot talk where it could get tedious.
Didn't like the begining but after that it keept me interested all the way through.

10/10 well done, would recomend.
Sequel plz

13 people found this helpful

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  • Rj
  • 07-23-20

I am a big Fan of Ellis

I love the Ender series. I love Old man’s war, and I liked this.

I was enveloped by the story throughout. I enjoyed Ellis’ writing style and the characters overall. I was surprised at times and I was correct at others which is nice. I don’t always want my expectations subverted.

I will definitely be waiting for additional books from Ellis and likely devour them just as quickly.

Some of the references felt a little too hard hammered. I didn’t care for the family relationships nor for how.... intense ... things were. There was a bit of an over dramatic pacing.

Despite this. Enjoyable. :) Ellis is worth a listen. It’ll go by quickly.
The narrator Stephanie Willis is fabulous.

10 people found this helpful

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Stellar debut for Ellis

I would be very surprised if the Hugo Awards didn't include this for next year. The book remains strong throughout, and has an interesting lead in for futher books.

10 people found this helpful

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it's fine.

The protagonist is a little too whiny at points and repeats herself a while lot. the aliens are interesting overall and the ideas around the world building are all solid, if not spectacularly original.

Oliver Thorn thinks he can do an American accent. He cannot.

Overall a decent first effort. B-.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-29-20

Distracting narrator

The narrator has a habit of pausing before blurting out a word (usually a verb), as if shocked by it.

Example: "She... TORE open the metal door and... SPILLED onto the cold floor, her neck... ACHING from having... SLEPT at an... AWKWARD angle."

It's very distracting, and once I noticed it, it was impossible to un-notice because it happens so often. Honestly don't know if I'm going to be able to finish this book because it's so jarring to me.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-07-20

Great story, terrible narration

This would have been a great audiobook but the delivery was appalling. like a 3rd rate B movie for young teens. Sadly, the narration spoiled the whole experience.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Barry
  • 08-16-20

Disappointing

I’m a huge fan of the author, and I find her video essays the most interesting, informed and thoughtful content on YouTube.

I think my disappointment is caused by the extraordinarily high expectations I had for this book. I was expecting something deeply complex on a par with Liu Cixin’s Three Body Problem.

This is not a complex book. It’s a very linear, very straightforward narrative. There are no other storylines other than the main one.

I found the staccato, overly-acted narration jarring and it really wasn’t my cup of tea.

I feel genuinely bad writing a bad review for this book as I am such a fan of the author. This is a young adult fiction book. I don’t think it should be marketed at adults. It’s a very solid YA novel. But in my opinion this isn’t a great science fiction book.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sharon Barron
  • 08-03-20

A curate's egg

The good points: quite an original take on First Contact, some strong characters, excellent storytelling. Gripping to the end.

The bad points: too much hyperbole, everyone's emotions go from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. The narration by Willis is not to my taste, although she gets it right when she isn't trying too hard for dramatic effect.

The meh points: why did the alien refugee group need someone to rescue them? The hyper intelligent alien "&" is pretty dumb as are the entire CIA.

This was recommended by a screen writer who I respect and is getting a lot of plaudits I don't really share. Maybe the OTT narration makes a good novel something less in its audiobook incarnation. Whatever, I was glad when it was over.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-18-21

sucked me right in!

narration bad. story great! I'm no sci-fi buff, but this was a really riveting and appropriately mysterious story about first contact. looking forward to the next book in the series!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kathryn
  • 08-01-20

Enjoyable science fiction

Good story but found the narration took a bit of getting used to. Overall would recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-06-21

Shame about the narration.

Couldn't really focus on the story cos it was like when you click audio on a Wikipedia article. Really didn't feel like I was listening to a person reading the book at all. Such a shame cos I had to keep going back to relisten to make sense of the story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-09-21

maybe a story for teenagers, performance cringy

story might be ok for older kids. never got compelling.

the Martian voices in narration were cringy.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • A Friend
  • 03-11-21

Ahhh that was a shame

I really like Lindsay Ellis' work and think she's great. This wasn't a very good listen though. It reads like fan fiction, which is to say not very complex and quite adolescent in style and content. Sort of faux pretentious without substance, but childishly so. It's not helped by the reading which is melodramatic in places and littered with mispronunciations, which is a shame (although I am British but I think they are still mispronunciations). Particularly the voice she does for the alien in Cora's head is very jarring and annoying and doesn't seem to mess well. Too much of that I think. I don't think the settings of 2006/7 has any point to it. It does mean the pop culture references are all very dated and therefore jarring, but adds essentially nothing to the plot except vague references to Bush invoking 9.11, but what if weeee were being invaded blah blah blah not very original or interesting. It was quite a struggle to get though.

1 person found this helpful

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  • vicky jones
  • 12-28-20

couldn't stop listening

struggled to turn this book off each time. really was riveting. from start to finish I was constantly engaged. I've struggled to keep up with reading the last few years so this grabbing me to vigorously is a real eye opener. can't wait for the sequel, looks like it'll be my first preorder :)

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dejan Krstevski
  • 09-30-20

Lindsay Ellis début novel

I recommend this book to new sci-fi readers. It is a great introduction to first contact stories.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Becca
  • 07-24-20

Great story

Loved this story so much, great narrators. Epic story with intense, well developed characters. Will definitely read again.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Elizabeth
  • 10-14-20

Engaging plot, dynamic characters...

...But I never want to hear the phrase “at length” again. This was a solid book and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a pulpy genre romp. The voice actor occasionally gave too much inflection in her delivery, but YMMV. I personally prefer the lines to be read with some neutrality so I can interpret them myself. Overall I loved it! Good to see someone’s keeping Oliver Thorn employed.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-27-20

solid new adult sci-fi

I enjoyed that relationships between the characters was complex and nuanced, and I found the book made me feel invested in the decisions of the protagonist

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samuel Beach
  • 01-16-21

Grounded yet heartfelt sci-fi

Reads like classic science fiction (Clarke, Niven etc.), but with characters you'll fall in love with and dialogue that you'd actually believe would come from a human (or not).

Brilliant story, eagerly awaiting the sequel.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Onyajay
  • 12-10-20

BORING>....

over an hour in, and I think this was written by a teenager, OR someone who thinks a novel must be super long, fill it with words, fill it with conversation, fill it with unnecessary adjectives,fill it with drama, but literally no story so far...it's SOOOO boring. Nothing, literally nothing has happened. Dont' bother.

The reader is PAINFUL. Other reviewers have mentioned the stop start nature of her delivery, in an effort to sound clear? or give meaning to certain dramatic words? she leaves long pauses, in fact her entire delivery is too slow, I've turned it up to 1.2 speed and it's STILL too slow, with long pauses.
I gave up when there was a reference to 'Batman', and then unbelievably an explanation as to who Batman is? I mean...this author has GOT to be an American. They think no one knows what 'they' know. We're all too stupid to know who Batman is. Yet, the narrator TWICE has to read the famous music that goes with the Batman theme. "Da na na na na na....Da na na na na ....." and it has a certain tune, right? The narrator literally reads it Da Na Na Na ... so it sounds like a bunch of words, not a musical theme. THAT was the moment I stopped listening.

But, what the hell is a 'town car'??? You mean a sedan? That's just a 'car'.

So far, I could encapsulate the entire hour an a half into two sentences:-
A family who's father/husband left them a few years ago, is dealing with the fallout of their father being a Wikileaks wannabe. A couple of meteors have fallen in California, and there are tenuous connections with the Wiki guy, who is using the meteor media for an unknown purpose.

There, my two sentences sound MUCH more interesting than the book I've just attempted to read.
Dont bother. Unless you need a good sleep,.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol Denehy
  • 11-20-20

When the narration intervenes

I can’t review the content because I gave up after three chapters. The subject sounded very interesting. The narrator however over dramatised so much that it wore thin very quickly. Every. WORD. Was. Emphasised. So that Even. Ordinary. Text became overwhelming in DOOM. Long pause. If this happens in the first three chapters, how is it when we get to the meat of the novel? Sorry

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robyn Rudd
  • 12-21-20

kept me guessing right up to the end

A very interesting enjoyable book. A unique an unpredictable storyline. Looking forward to the next linstalment in the series.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Travis Partington
  • 11-14-20

Brilliant

Great story, well written and brilliant. My only wish would be that Ampersand voice in Cora's head was performed by an old school text to speech app. A must read or to be read to.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • emma brown
  • 11-02-20

Great story but difficult to listen to

I found the way this narrator keeps stopping mid sentence to emphasise different words quite disconcerting. The story was really interesting and thought provoking.