a ya book with aliens colonizing the earth? no, thanks. a ya book with aliens colonizing the earth written by fonda lee? sign me up! lee can turn basically anything into not just readable, but well-written material, so i was quite excited to read exo. it did not disappoint in the slightest. donovan reyes is the kind of guy everyone can root for, the chivalrous hero who sometimes makes questionable decisions but tries to do what's right. don't mistake him for a gary stu, though; he has real flaws. i liked how the story is written from the perspective of someone who's intimately familiar with aliens, not your typical invasion-fighting human. i also liked the nuance because what i normally see in sci-fi is aliens = bad, humans = good, but lee shows the good things that the zhree (what the aliens are called) did for earth too. the main character, donovan, is the son of a prime liasion (think diplomat with way more power), who maintains good relations with the zhree. understandably, not everyone on earth is happy with alien colonization; there's a faction of humans known as sapience who engage in violent terrorist attacks against zhree and other humans. donovan and his friends are exos, modified humans with fighting and pain withstanding abilities, and they police sapience sympathizers. but one day...disaster strikes. he is kidnapped by sapience. his father refuses to negotiate with the terrorist movement, and donovan is left to his own devices to survive. i'd like to applaud fonda lee for taking an unoriginal premise and making it so unique. i've read a bit of sci-fi before but never seen things exactly like zhree or exos. also, i'm a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope (donovan and anya) which was done well here. to summarize, exo is a spectacular book and if lee writes more in the future, i will sprint to the library (who cares if i got last place in track? i can run fast when i'm motivated by books).