To compare this to the cockroach-from-space District 9 movie doesn't begin to do it justice. But that's a great movie, so it's a start. This romantic sci-fier is a beautifully-crafted apartheid story, depicting the segregation of aliens and humans on Earth. There are some political and didactic undertones, but it doesn't condescend you. Nor does it choose sides. Instead, it leaves you profoundly moved, shocked, out of breath, and whip-lashed in a collision of human pride and shame.Few books can rival this story's narrative spirit, sexual audacity (human/alien copulation), and depravity of villains. RLS forcefully shoves you into the concentration camps with these oppressed other-worldly characters and rips your heart from your chest as you see them as men and women and children, and not as extraterrestrial creatures. You live alongside them, sharing their dreams, friendships, humor, fears, brutality, starvation, and death. The sci-fi elements are very soft, doesn't bury you in the nuts and bolts of speculative science and world-building. In fact, this is the fastest pace RLS script I've read to date. The romance is not an overarching focal point, but this love story is more powerful than the majority of high-maintenance, non-communicative, self-absorbed relationships crowding today's romance genre. In a drama that is full of grief and suspense, the smallest moments between this H/h--her fingertips beneath the plates of his outer shell, their shared breath, their simple declarations (I am you and you are me)--bring the atrocities of their hardships into painful focus. Their sexual mating may be considered perverse by mainstream standards, but the mechanics are insignificant in lieu of the poignant, soul-deep connection between them.Look as hard as you can, you won't find any flaws in this story. Yes, it's harrowing and weird and speculative. But the MCs are the paragon of heroism, the ending is uplifting, and the plot elements are brilliant down to the smallest detail. When finished, you might struggle to pick up another book right away, knowing that absolutely nothing will compare.If you haven't read anything by RLS, this book is an amazing discovery of this author's artistry. It will hold your interest through every hard-to-read page. I was actually pained when I reached the end. I found myself flipping forward, chanting, "No, no, no." Not because the ending wasn't satisfying. The contrary. I was so embedded in the story, I had no desire to emerge. No doubt this will be the best book I read this year, as it has certainly joined my beloved shelf of all-time favorites.