Xenophobia is a good first contact novel, but could be better. I quickly became invested in the main character, a Dr. Bowers, and the U.S. Rangers that guard her. They’re in the midst of an African civil war when first contact occurs. Surrounding them are warlords with too little brains and too many drugs and guns. Can Bower and the Rangers get to safety?
The plot was good, the aliens were unique, and I cared about the characters. The Rangers were not just cookie cutter soldiers.
I give the book three and a half stars. It has two flaws. First, there are occasional long preachy soliloquies that slow down the book if you read them and are unnecessary if you don’t read them. They are a clear case of author intrusion. The other flaw is that the reader learns of most the human/alien interaction by Bower and the Rangers listening to the radio. Yeah, it’s all fiction, but I could believe what was happening to Bower was real. The reports on the radio just seemed like made up stuff. I think the author should have had another protagonist, perhaps a brother of Bower, who directly experiences the human/alien confrontations, rather than have a periodic telling of the first contact.