Review: Tone of Voice by Kaia Sønderby

At the beginning of Tone of Voice, Xandri Corelel has spent six months living among the Ongkoarrat after herTone of Voice Cover unceremonious firing from the crew of the Carpathia, and though she misses her home, she has settled into her new life. Then Diver arrives with news that changes everything.

The Hands and Voices — squid- and whale-like symbiotic aliens — are masters of bio-engineering and grow a wide variety of species of coral. Now they are in the process of creating coral that can withstand vacuum, with a most stunning end goal: To grow entire spaceships out of living organisms. The Starsystems Alliance is desperate to lure the Hands and Voices into the Alliance and bring this new technology into the fold. And the Voices and Hands are willing, with one stipulation.

They will only negotiate with Xandri and the crew of the Carpathia.

Returned from exile, Xandri is given the lead on this new mission. She quickly discovers that willingness isn’t the problem; the Hands and Voices want to join, but they want full equality in their membership–including the ability to attend council meetings in person. Amid the sunshine and surf of the tropical, idyllic planet of Song, it seems the biggest hardship Xandri and her friends will face is the task of re-rigging a spaceship to carry creatures the size of killer whales.

Then the Last Hope for Humanity arrives, and this time they’ve brought an army. (via Goodreads)

I previously reviewed the first book in Sønderby’s Xandri Corolel series, Failure to Communicate, and we are mutuals on Twitter. I purchased Tone of Voice on my own.

After reading Failure to Communicate a few months ago, I could not wait to get my hands on Tone of Voice. I definitely read it all in one sitting, and I have no regrets about that.

Xandri’s existence as an autistic woman written by an autistic woman is so incredibly important to me. It’s one of the many reasons I loved Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like HerOur voices are rare, and are often drowned out by savant narratives

One of Sønderby’s greatest strengths is her ability to take the creatures we know and love here on Earth, and transform them into vibrant, distinct and stunning species’ of aliens. It’s astonishing. The Hands and Voices in Tone of Voice were no exception. I was as awash in wonder as the crew of Carpathia was, and I loved every minute of it.

The political intrigue in this series continues to amaze me. I love intrigue, and Sønderby weaves it into the story masterfully, without allowing any one thing to take over for long.

If you’re looking for science fiction that is awash with wonder, joy, and delight, you’ll want to pick up this series. You can do that, with my highest recommendation, on Amazon!


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