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The Lesson

Narrated by: Janina Edwards, Ron Butler
Length: 8 hrs and 37 mins
4 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years, the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super-advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders, and a peace that cannot last.

A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

©2019 Cadwell Turnbull (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

Critic Reviews

“Turnbull is a rising star in the science fiction and fantasy world.” (The Verge

“Turnbull was raised in the Caribbean in a family that lived there for generations. This slow but gradual addition to the field of diverse writers whose fiction is influenced by their cultural background has not only led to a more authentic depiction of places other than mainland America and the United Kingdom, it’s also revitalized the genre’s creaky old tropes, such as the alien invasion/first contact narrative.... The Lesson is everything I adore about a debut, a bold new voice that applies a fresh coat of paint to an old idea and does so with a sense of daring, compassion, and intelligence.” (Ian Mond, Locus) 

“Sometimes the aliens don’t land in New York or London. In fact, the alien Ynaa ship that catalyzes the emotional landscape and drives the action of this debut novel lands in the harbor of Water Island, one of the US Virgin Islands.... A persuasively - almost musically - worded meditation on colonialism and whether it’s really possible to return home again.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review)  

Editorial Review

First contact & human connection

Despite its popularity as a genre, I find that true literary sci-fi is a tricky thing to get just right. And yet Cadwell Turnbull’s debut has done just that. A first-contact narrative set in the US Virgin Islands, The Lesson is as "unpauseably" (it’s a word, okay?) compulsive as it is worthy of quietly savoring. Turnbull explores—yes, even through his non-human characters—the full range of the human experience: the sense of family, of feeling on the outside, of needing to belong to someone or something. One listen will not be enough—I know I’ll come back to this novel again, eager to reacquaint myself with the characters and pick up on those subtle cues missed the first time around. Not to mention re-experience the dynamic performances from the skilled duo of Janina Edwards and Ron Butler. —Sam D., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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That was it?

Missing real content. The story left me wondering why I purchased the book. It felt like a short story instead of a novel.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What a thought-provoking book!

Excellent story, and a great listen! It is a rare pleasure for me when an author and a reader (or in this case two readers) transport my mind to an interesting time and place, and introduce me to indelible people (and aliens) with unique life situations. In “The Lesson”, the aliens have landed but decide, in lieu of eating us, to co-earth-share, being helpful in some ways, but in others, threatening our collective human existence. So in these circumstances, how do we go on? What should matter to us? And what is real? Should I buy that edgy-looking e.t. a cup of coffee? These questions will now linger with me for some time.

I see real flashes of Graham Greene in this author’s characters and his attention to detail, and also of Robert Heinlein, in his method of seducing us forward slowly with his story. We should have high expectations for Mister Turnbull going forward. And I thank him for this wonderful story!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Reduction to the mundane

The book probably has the dubious distinction of reducing the wonders of science fiction writing down to the mundane, something we, the reader, is trying to escape.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Sssso Interessssting

This novel wasn't quite what I expected but I grew to appreciate the paced reading and thoughtfulness of the ideas. Not a Syfi thriller or action story, but more of a contemplative saga. Janina Edwards narration was great.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • joan
  • Atlanta, ga,United States
  • 07-08-19

Fantastic!

I've traveled throughout the Caribbean and found the content from the author as well as the accents from the narrators to be interesting and accurate.

I really enjoyed the story and hope for a sequel.

it was great to hear a sci fi story told from a different perspective and different location.

the narrators did a beautiful job too!