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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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Where did they get this guy?

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

5 people found this helpful

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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.

5 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.

3 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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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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Cora is such a bad person to follow

The narration for this book is excellent. Well told and performed. My big problem is Cora is such a horrible person to follow.

She is uninteresting with nothing going on outside of her clearly toxic and obsessive relationship with Ampersand. While I recognize she has PTSD she does little to help herself with it. If there was no Kaveh I can't picture her being able to function as a person. She is selfish, making just about everything about her but hypocritical in that she chastised others for doing the same.

She comes off as very white savor in her interactions and interests with the aliens. Like she is the only one that can save them, even from themselves. She clearly does not respect their outlook on life or their POV. She shows little respect for their views and insists that the way they think is wrong. She frequently overreacts and makes things worse. Other characters tend to pay the price for the choices and mistakes she makes. Other characters are wrong for how they treat Cora but Cora isn't wrong for how she treats others.

Cora is such an incredibly selfish person. Her desires and wants are whats important. Others are either ignored or presented as being wrong with Cora being the one that is right. This is especially true when what Cora wants conflicts with what the aliens want and how Cora is ultimately positioned as being the one who is correct and them and their desires are whats wrong. It smacks of white savorism and white folks needing to protect others from even themselves.

Some of what she does is the result of PTSD but having PTSD is not an excuse for being such a shitty person. And just about everything about her and Ampersand is just so very toxic. I'm not sure why anyone would want to follow them or root for them.

The book is filled with far more interesting characters and it's a shame they aren't the focus of the story. The antagonists for the book are so cartoonishly evil. They aren't real people with complex lives and motivations but instead just one dimension cut outs. Evil CIA man. Evil general. Even the supremacist are so cartoonishly evil.

Honestly if I had to read this book I would have never finished it.

1 person 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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  • 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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  • Amanda
  • 08-07-22

A human experience

Navigating relationships have never been easy and even more so when you throw in aliens, ptsd, depression, and existential dread. I'm surprised at how such a frustrating experience that is trying to overcome mental illness can be so accurately depicted while still maintaining an engaging plot and pace.
Some parts did grow a bit too heavy for me but I'm thankful for the warning given in the author's note so I was prepared to pause and resume once I was more ready.
Looking forward to the next installment.

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  • Furniture and your home
  • 05-11-22

More tension and complex. More drama and intruige

Loving this book series. My title is a comparison to the first book.
The narration is better than the first one too as they have used a sound effect to help the excellent narrator deal with the alien voices.

Though deeply grounded in all that has come before. Lindsey ellis’s book brings a great deal of new ideas and interpretations to the table.

Really enjoyable listen and easy to fall into.

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  • Darknyt
  • 04-13-22

A great second novel.

Ellis has quite clearly advanced her writing style here from her initial book. Expanding on the themes tackled in its predecessor, Truth of the Divine deals with our understanding of God in all of its aspects. What truly makes our existence and the universe beyond us divine? There are some incredibly fascinating discussions on the topic here, all conspicuously omitting that name “God“. Apart from the very last.
On the other side, it deals with some of the darkest impulses and aspects that accompany the human condition. The hatred that we turn outwards as well as inwards. The ease by which we allow fear to dictate our actions. Fear of that which is misunderstood. Fear of the other. An unusual and unsettling look at issues that exist within our own cultures and societies. The anger and rage that will eventually turn inwards and consume us. Very big questions are asked here, and importantly she provides no answers. That work is for us to do.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-25-22

Great book

I really liked the book although it kind of broke my heart. Also the voice acting is amazing: 10/10.

It is not a fun book in the sense that the characters are not having fun. Characters live with the very realistic consequences of the things that happened in the previous book, both in a personal and social context.

I really enjoyed it and it the book explores very interesting and very relevant topics in a way that feels very organic and entertaining.

And also the reference to punching an alien in the face was so hilarious.

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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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  • 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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ish
  • 07-08-22

please another!

aplease let this be a trilogy! This is truly excellent. Such an unexpected narrative, with complex and developing characters. I'm hooked.

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  • Jaimee Raper
  • 03-14-22

Great sequel

This story is a great continuation of the previous one, fixing some of the issues and continuing the story very naturally. The addition of new characters helps to flesh out the world, while the ending is beautiful.
Still, if you didn't like the first one, this probably isn't for you.