Music – illegal.
Books – illegal.
Emotion – forbidden!
Two years after the alien invasion, 17-year-old Ellie’s favorite song by The Starry Eyed still motivates her, presses her to keep a secret library in their New York City apartment basement, to risk execution so a tiny bit of hope stays alive.
The Ilori believe that humans are untrustworthy because of their emotions. Books, music, and art are forbidden, as are outbursts of anger or joy.
In Ellie’s quadrant, M0Rr15 is ready to test the behavior-muting vaccine he was ordered to develop – only controllable humans will be kept alive when the planet is reconfigured as a habitation for the true Ilori by the armored lab-made Ilori on Earth now.
M0Rr15 finds Ellie with a book, but instead of neutralizing the Black teen, he borrows the book, listens to music (his favorite thing about this odd planet) with her, and tries to save her family from the vaccine.
Hiding their meetings from the all-encompassing Ilori in-brain communication network does drain M0Rr15’s electrical charge, but is vital as their friendship grows – no wonder the Ilori say feelings are so dangerous!
Ilori command sends M0Rr15 westward across America to fix a vaccine production glitch – and he smuggles Ellie with him!
Can he trust her with his secret plans to save humanity?
Will her parents be safe after she’s left?
How long until the Ilori officials catch up with them?
Told alternately by Ellie and M0Rr15 – “If I fail, what is the point of my life?” (p. 59) – this near-future story of hope versus destiny reaches for the stars and tugs at our heartstrings.
Ask for this debut novel at your local library or independent bookstore as we celebrate the work of Black creators this month and always.
If you could share only one song, what would you choose?
Book info: The Sound of Stars / Alechia Dow. Inkyard Press, 2020 (hardcover), 2021 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.