94 points, 4 ¾ stars
The human and atevi inhabitants of Alpha Station, orbiting the world of the atevi, have picked up a signal from an alien kyo ship telling them that the ship is inbound toward Alpha. Five thousand of the inhabitants of Alpha are human refugees from the now derelict Reunion Station. They have seen this scenario before, when a single kyo ship swooped into the Reunion system and, without a word, melted a major section of Reunion Station with a single pass. These refugees, who were rescued through the combined efforts of an allied group of humans and atevi and brought to safety at Alpha, are now desperate with fear.
Bren Cameron—brilliant human emissary of Tabini-aiji, the powerful atevi political leader on the mainland below, and also the appointee of the human president of the island nation of Mospheira—is the obvious choice of representative to be sent up to deal with both the panicked refugees and the incoming alien ship.
As a member of the spacefaring delegation who rescued the refugees, Bren has talked to kyo before—and even won their trust by saving one of their kind from a Reunioner prison. Because of his remarkable diplomatic and linguistic abilities, Bren managed to communicate with that grateful kyo individual on a limited basis, and he has evidence that that same kyo is on the ship heading to defenseless Alpha Station.
But no one can predict what an alien race might do, or what their motivations could be.
And Bren Cameron, the only human ever to be accepted into atevi society, is now the one individual with a hope of successfully interacting with the crew of the incoming ship. But Bren knows it will take putting himself in the hands of the kyo.
Can Bren count on the gratitude of one individual alien to save his life and the lives of thousands on Alpha Station?
God—had it happened? Was it true?
Had he just lost not only the words, but all the time between?
Or was this the greatest case of test anxiety in history?
In the previous book, Tracker, the kyo have come to earth and Bren, Cajeiri, and Ilisidi have raced off to the space station to meet them. In Visitor, this is that meeting. In full. I seriously expected this meeting to drag on for another two or so books. I’m highly surprised it was over in just this one.
With Visitor, we’re back to way less politics but way more linguistics. There was actually pretty much no politics and no action this time around, which is a bit disappointing. Which was made up by the fact that it was way more linguistics than we have gotten in a long, long time. The only downside is that we had to go over the culture of human vs. atevi with some kyo differences thrown in, for the hundredth time. But that probably would have been way less annoying had I not read this entire series in a month.
Bren is pulled in 100 different directions throughout the book. Too many responsibilities, not enough Bren. The best thing in the entire book is that he has finally, finally learned to fucking delegate already. He doesn’t have to be the one to do everything. And he isn’t. There was just too much to do, in too little time, with too few resources. Namely, too little sleep.
And whoa SURPRISE TWIST at the end! Well, okay. If I’m being honest, I can’t truly say I was that surprised. I think it was kind of the only way to go from here. But it was a really good, heart pounding, oh my god what is happening moment. I loved it. So much.
…Visitor is a surprisingly good place to stop if you’re not like me and incapable of stopping. This wraps up pretty much every single outstanding plot thread we have had to date. There is, of course, more story that can be told. There is at least four more books after this, afterall. But you can gain a real sense of satisfying completion with Visitor. Of course I ignored this advice and just kept reading.