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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

"In The Lesson Cadwell Turnbull, by setting his story in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, makes something completely new of the old theme of humans' first contact with superior aliens. Putting these 'colonizing aliens' in a place shaped by colonialism opens new perspectives on issues of race and culture and sex and exploitation. But the true wonder of this novel is its beautifully realized portrayal of Charlotte Amalie and its deeply human and complex characters, young and old, all of them transformed by the arrival of the ambiguously motivated Ynaa. It's a story of mystery, romance, tragedy, and redemption. Like Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin before him, Turnbull uses the tools of science fiction to illuminate the human heart. The Lesson stands at the beginning of what I expect to be a long and illustrious career." (John Kessel, Nebula Award-winning author of The Moon and the Other and Pride and Prometheus)

What listeners say about The Lesson

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • disapointed
  • 26-06-2019

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.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Logical
  • 13-07-2019

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.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ronald opper
  • 19-06-2019

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!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 04-12-2019

Aliens Arrive, Deliver Gut-Punch

This story quickly immersed me in the culture of St. Thomas, USVI. And these aliens were sympathetic, to a degree.

But the real power of this story comes in showing the huge gap between what we expect from others and how others actually act (or react). In this, there are parallels with the all-time classic "War of the Worlds".

Both narrators did great jobs, showing us different points-of-view from the various characters.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • William Clarke
  • 06-09-2019

Awesome story set in my native US Virgin Islands

The story was original and set in the US Virgin Islands, which was an unusual treat. The author captures the feel of the Islands and their history. A true pleasure.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jessica
  • 24-07-2019

Interesting

I enjoyed listening to this book. The story was unusual. Descriptions were vivid. Narration was smooth and a good listen.
There were some unanswered questions at the end but I’m assuming there will be a second book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • genre-book-lover
  • 22-07-2019

SF doing what SF does best; accessible to all

I'm not going to re-cap the blurb or give a synopsis.

It's classic SF, about first contact, and humanity's struggle with a more technologically developed species. The book is informed by the authors background, the history of his birthplace.

History most of us know little about.

In it, all these half century old tropes spring to life on the page, vital and new and infused with fresh meaning, enacted by real characters we feel like we know.

There's stuff about colonialism I knew in my head, that I now feel in my flesh and bones. The book has made me a bigger person. This is the best case scenario; this is what we want books to do.

Human scaled interaction with global importance, existential impact. No straw men. No villains. No superheroes.

Just humanity, love, wonder, loss, resilience.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chester Johnson
  • 14-08-2019

Meh...

This started out the first half of the book as a great read, then it just fell on its face the second half. It seemed like the author had a great idea to start a book, then lost all inspiration and rushed through the rest of the story to meet a publisher's deadline.

The characters were kind of one dimensional, and as I made it through to the end finally, I was left still trying to find out what the actual "Lesson" really was supposed to be.

A 2 1/2 star out of 5 read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David T
  • 06-08-2019

what happened?

They (Ena) were here and then they left. So did the author and editors. Seems like the effort was completely gone by the end. Kudos to the performers though!

1 person found this helpful

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  • M. Grace
  • 19-06-2019

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • ziiigggg
  • 03-11-2020

a wonderful audio book, thank you

wow, wow, wow.
at last an audiobook that is worthy of the praise given to it.
for a credit you get great characters, genuine emotion without cod sentimentality, world class narration and best of all, a stunning truly original sci fi ish story and plot lines.
i enjoyed every moment and have no hesitation in recommending this audiobook to everyone.
a big thank you to everyone involved.

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