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Publisher's Summary

PLEASE NOTE: An earlier version of this audiobook had chapters out of order, but this error has been corrected.

Truth of the Divine is the new alternate history first contact novel from the instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and LA Times best-selling video essayist 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 becomes more unstable, the world is forced to consider the ramifications of granting human rights to non-human 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 a way that neither of them could have anticipated. Despite this, Ampersand is still keen on keeping secrets, even from her, which backfires on both of them when investigative journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, a close colleague of Cora’s estranged whistleblower 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 monstrous-looking, 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.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

©2021 Lindsay Ellis (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

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CHAPTERS OUT OF SEQUENCE (update: fixed?)

When the book first dropped several chapters were out of order, however it appears to have been updated. If you're having problems I suggest deleting and re-downloading. I'm editing this review to remove the 1-star rating I gave initially to be fair to the author and voice actors because everything else is fine so far.

I'll edit this review for a real review of the story/performance later.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Where did they get this guy?

The female parts are read expertly. The male part is absolutely awful. Story is ok

4 people found this helpful

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Great Story, sometimes narration too quiet

I loved the story and having different narrators added a lot. Sometimes the performers would speak very quietly (because the characters are whispering or whatever) and that's nice and all if you're in an ideal listening environment, but it was hard to hear over ambient noise. Small complaint. I really dig the story and the characters very well written.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Very anxious bridge movie

I really love the premise of this story from the first novel and had high hopes on listening to the second book of this series, including the political ramifications of a story like this- but I had a really hard time getting through this audio book.

Unfortunately the narration performance of this felt more detrimental to this story than immersive. About half way through listening to this, I genuinely felt regret that I didn't try to order the book and read it for myself instead of listen to this audio book. (for context, I read the first novel, and did not listen to the first novel's audio book. Certain creative choices obviously clashed with my own brain's idea of how I narrated this in my head, including the idea that these aliens all used some variation of text-to-speech generated voices)

Stephanie Willis's performance is a mix. On the one hand she is wonderful at conveying anxiety and panic in her performance (It is very effective, and stirred a lot of my own feelings of panic when listening to her narrate a character experiencing many. Many panic attacks) On the other hand, It felt hard to listen to her sobbing into the mic. It was a great performance, but perhaps too great for my own nerves.
Kaveh's Taherian definitely had issues with tone where there was sarcasm completely missed during the certain dialogue and internal dialogue moments.
The choice to use a robotic voice mod over their own voices for certain characters sometimes made it difficult to hear what was being said, and there is at least one moment where the voice mod was held down for a moment too long as the narrator was no longer speaking as said character.
Abigail Thorn's performances were brief compared to Steph and Kaveh, so the most I can say is she pulled off some great american accents and news caster voices. At some moments I was nearly convinced that there was an unlisted mystery narrator that worked on this audio book.

Beyond the performance, the story surprised me how much the focus was going to be largely about ptsd. It felt like it dragged on a bit regarding this, but from what I understand this book series is going to be 4 books. I have 3 hrs left of listening to go through and felt a little disappointed with how much of the focus leaned on the human perspectives despite being a series about relationships between humans and aliens. The best comparison to this feeling is like watching a monster movie, and only getting to see 10 minutes of a really cool monster scenes due to budget reasons or the director's desire to ensure the air of mystery is maintained on the monsters for as long as possible.

tldr: All in all, I'm sure many people will like this novel (and kudos to the team that worked on this) but the narration killed it for me, and the themes of hurt/comfort/anxiety dragged on for longer than I would have enjoyed.

3 people found this helpful

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Fun read...

Fun read, just not sure of Kaveh's voice. He sounded a little bland and unconvincing at times.

2 people found this helpful

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good story, but probably should have got the book

Hard to listen to in some passages as Cora's actor does almost too good job of portraying panic attacks and mental breakdowns. dont recomend if trying to relax after a stressful day.
the actor for kaveh was the opposite, some chapters were well read and expressed emotion, usually those involving his family and the passages spoken in I assume farsi? but others were way too casual, almost like he was reading the newspaper and trying to speed read through it at that. the recording quality for his sections was also noticeably poorer. You can hear an echo at times and what seemed like a last minute edit that was thrown in in one section (it seemed like it was an editors note to address a plot hole).

if you liked the first audio book and want to continue the story I would probably recomend the printed version over the audio book unless you really want to hear the agonized screams of the character vs just imagining them yourself.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Follow Up

I really enoyed this book, her depictions of mental illness were incredibly well done. I did like the additional characters. I was a bit resistant at first but Kave was a good dude. The voice performance was a little meh and was maybe why I didn't like it. Compared to Kora's voice performer who was amazing. The political stuff seemed so poignant to todays atmosphere that it was almost infuriating to here over and over. but that is what makes it a great book. Great work Lindsey Elis, great work

1 person found this helpful

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Worth your monthly credit.

It starts to feel a little like one of those vampire boyfriend stories in the beginning, but the story will bend away from that. Stephanie is excellent again in her performance.

1 person found this helpful

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Best of the first book with an amazing story

Lindsay made a truly amazing story. The second book takes the aspects of Axiom’s end that were unique and that I liked and makes them even better. I found my self on a wave as I was listening to the book. Lindsay wrote in a way that got in my soul.

1 person found this helpful

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Heed the Trigger Warnings

Loved the book and the performances of the voice actors were excellent. Kaveh’s performance is getting a bad rap in some of the reviews, but he hit the important beats with aplomb. Voice actors gotta start somewhere and for a first performance he killed it. I can’t wait to hear him on the next book.

As for the story, I enjoyed the balance between the trauma and the humor, and how poignant the political elements feel given our current challenges. Without the humor and light moments, this book would have been a massive struggle for me to get through. The trigger warning Lindsay Ellis made at the beginning was super helpful (Spoilers actually help me get through stressful books) and she even made the TW funny in a respectful way.

Super entertaining, very thought provoking, and can’t wait for the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Seán Hannan
  • 11-22-21

*So* much better than the first one!

I liked Axiom's End a lot, but this one blew me away. I cried, I laughed. It made me think deep thoughts!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 11-17-21

Youch this one hit hard

It was captivating enjoyable and at some points fairly harrowing, I would wholeheartedly recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-24-21

Better than the first book

Excellent book and fantastic narration. Ellis expertly explores some important issues with our society, and the narrator communicates emotion flawlessly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-10-21

Wow!

This is quite a sequel!
Had no idea where the story would go, kaves' performance really makes the character likeable and brings the story so much hope in a narrative where there is significant suffering.

The book was a blast, it's intense but the quality of writing has improved so much, and the multiple perspective really balanced Korra's trauma.

Theres a really interesting and neuanced laying out of how humanity eats itself throughout the narrative and it feels very close to home when living though such uncertain times. Very cathartic.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Janika Vikman
  • 11-06-21

A banger of a sequel

Brain full of endorfins the whole time I listened, despite of the dark subject matter. Enjoyed the new dynamic introduced as well. Can't wait for the next book!

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. Barlow
  • 01-03-22

Engaging throughout

An engaging follow-up to Axioms End and I couldn't stop listening. The voice acting really added to the depth of story telling and the addition of a separate voice actor for a new protagonist's viewpoint was at first a little jarring but ultimately made for effective story telling without it starting to feel like a radio drama.

I can't say too much about my main criticism of the way the story was delivered without spoilers but suffice to say the hardest part for me was that way that sometimes portraying the true-to-life can make for heavy-going.

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  • Ilse Gort
  • 11-25-21

An excellent sequel!

I found Truth of the Divine every bit as good as Axiom's End, perhaps a little better now that we are more familiar with the characters to start with and so get to experience their personalities and interpersonal relationships with greater depth and attention to detail. It is a faster paced book than Axiom's End, with more tension and action which I feel is appropriate at this point in the story. It's a rollercoaster ride all the way through and touches on topics that are unfortunately painfully relevant at this time.

In terms of performance, I love and applaud the addition of a new character perspective. Kaveh's chapters are pleasantly read, often funny and add a lot of warmth to an otherwise (and frankly still) quite depressing story. Stephanie Willis does a great job setting the tone for Cora and I do think her narration and pace improved between this and the previous book, However I have to admit I struggled through her portrayals of Cora's spiraling. I understand that it's supposed to be uncomfortable to hear a person's panic and in that sense she does an amazing job. But as someone who has experienced panic attacks and hyperventilation quite a lot she lost me a bit in the overdramatization - like she was trying a bit too hard to sound out of control and almost crossed the line into caricature. Which is a difficult line to tread in fairness and I do not envy her for having to try! But it was difficult to get past the "Hollywood version" feel of the experience and I had to suppress the urge to skip those scenes.

I also found the drastic change in Ampersand's voice (compared to Axiom's End) difficult to get used to at first and it was too quiet in the beginning compared to Cora's narration, which was deeply frustrating as it made it difficult to hear what he was saying at all. The volume did improve later on however and I started appreciating the effect as time went on, but it really rather ruined the immersion initially.

I'm very much looking forward to the next book!

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  • Guy McDonald
  • 11-02-21

Better as a video essayist

I love Lindsay's YouTube channel, but it didn't really translate to her first book- and the second book confirmed it for me. Heck- it deepened it for me.

Axioms End has been compared to "the Arrival" and "the Three Bodies Problem", but I'm dubious. The sequel is honestly closer to Twilight with a heavy dose of emo fanfiction + political rants. It lost the redeeming aspects of awe and lightness that the first book had, whilst veering further away from loosely realistic-ish sci-fi, whilst also trying to Aesop? Its a real jumble and didn't work for me. YMMV

Cora just reads as a dislikeable or boring character. Perhaps she's a good representation of a 21 year old with low self esteem and PTSD, but it isn't fun or serendipitous or plot advancing (-with-the-exceptions-of-summoning-wish-fulfillment-boyfriends). So much repetition of Ugh. Very little sense of internal agency, ambition, or hope. And I get the lack of those things often enough in real life.

*spoilers*

These things are partly why it's a sad relief to be in the brain of a new character so often, but his character flaws seem so pre-fixed or inconsequential outside of his modelling modern feminist boyfriend-hood. Whilst being a famous, wealthy, handsome, prizewinning journalist. Being in his head is less like purgatory than Cora's but it isn't really relatable either?
Him being horny for this newly slim/underweight girl 14 years his junior is noted as not ideal.. and still charged onwards with anyway Because wealthy famous wish fulfillment boyfriend.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • 01-10-22

not as good as the first one

All the scenes where she was having PTSD flashbacks were so irritating to listen to, I had to skip through them. This was mainly the performance though.

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  • Cassandra
  • 01-08-22

I laughed I cried

Better than the 1st book!
Some issues with the production quality here and there.
I look forward to Lindsay Ellis' next book