Review #162 // Failure to Communicate (Xandri Corelel #1) – Kaia Sønderby

Failure to Communicate (Xandri Corelel #1)Xandri Corelel is the head of the Xeno-Liasons on board the Carpathia, specializing in the study and protection of  alien species. She also happens to be one of the few autistics that remains in the far future. When Xandri’s abilities are needed to help negotiate an alliance with the xenophobic Anmerilli, she doesn’t even begin to expect the level at which this mission will endanger her.

Why this book?: I’ve heard amazing things about the autism representation, which is #OwnVoices. This book has been recommended so many times by close friends, so I finally caved.

I started this book in the midst of a horrible book slump, so I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be finishing it. If I hadn’t, I knew, that was no fault of the book’s, but my own. After getting a certain distance into this book, I knew I would have to take a break–but at the same time, I knew that I had to make sure I came back to this one. I have the bad habit of setting books aside to read later, and then never coming back to them–but I knew that I would have to come back to this one. It was special.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what I thought of Failure to Communicate right off the bat. I was a little bored with the narrative, and the writing was a little too vague for my liking, so I was constantly rereading sentences to make sure I was getting the right information out of them. It wasn’t until the book got into full swing, which I think took about 25-30%, that I was honestly drawn into enough that I knew for a fact that this book would be rated fairly well. While the book took a while to get started, the characters were still developed, but I almost felt like I was missing something. Characters were introduced without an introduction, and so it was hard to follow who was who and who was what and what they looked like. Alien species were described without so much as a few sentences commenting on animals they looked like but then later adding on that they had body parts or abilities that made no sense with their supposed anatomy.

So, needless to say, I was confused with the writing and the minimal descriptions I as a reader got. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the plot though, nor the characters, because I was able to invent what they looked like in my own way. While this also conflicted with the narrative, it allowed me to still connect with the characters as I would have normally.

The plot often frustrated me, for the same reasons it obviously frustrated Xandri, and I fell into Failure to Communicate as if I were beside Xandri as the story proceeded. I loved Xandri’s honesty. I loved the autism representation. I loved how the story related back to present-day America, and how the media relates everything back to being neurodiverse. Not only were the characters honest, but so was Kaia’s relation back to current events.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆


While I had difficulties with the writing, everything else was stellar. I loved the characters, despite wanting to know more about them, and I loved the plot. The ending was a little hard for me, but I still loved the nuance that Kaia used in order to handle this story with poise.

Would I Recommend?

Totally! It’s such a fun story, with a very unique outlook on the future of neurodiverse peoples like autistics and people with mental illnesses. For me, it’s hard to imagine a world without them, being one of them, and so it was amazing to see this very real possibility from the view of another autistic.

Failure to Communicate (Xandri Corelel #1)

Additional Information:

Published: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: Going to Mars

Page Count: 320

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: via Goodreads

As one of the only remaining autistics in the universe, Xandri Corelel has faced a lot of hardship, and she’s earned her place as the head of Xeno-Liaisons aboard the first contact ship Carpathia. But her skill at negotiating with alien species is about to be put to the ultimate test.

The Anmerilli, a notoriously reticent and xenophobic people, have invented a powerful weapon that will irrevocably change the face of space combat. Now the Starsystems Alliance has called in Xandri and the crew of the Carpathia to mediate. The Alliance won’t risk the weapon falling into enemy hands, and if Xandri can’t bring the Anmerilli into the fold, the consequences will be dire.

Amidst sabotage, assassination attempts, and rampant cronyism, Xandri struggles to convince the doubtful and ornery Anmerilli. Worse, she’s beginning to suspect that not everyone on her side is really working to make the alliance a success. As tensions rise and tempers threaten to boil over, Xandri must focus all her energy into understanding the one species that has always been beyond her: her own.

6 thoughts on “Review #162 // Failure to Communicate (Xandri Corelel #1) – Kaia Sønderby

  1. This is one of my favourite books! I agree that the different aliens could have used a little more descriptions though, I kept mixing them up. I think it might have been a common problem, because the second book has a little explanation of each species at the beginning 🙂