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Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite
Jessi, the protagonist of Exchanger by K. E. Brungardt, is an exchange student - but not the kind you'd find at any university on Earth; no, she's traveling to another planet on a starship to live among aliens, visit their university and get to know their habits and culture. While this alone would make for an interesting novel, Jessi has even more on her plate than just trying to learn as much as possible about her new life in the two weeks on the ship. During the day, she learns the language, etiquette, dances, and more with other exchange students. While, at night, she roams the ship in secret to find answers to the question of why her brother (who she never even met) had to die on exactly this starship. During these explorations, her hair plays a vital role as it's conscious, can camouflage Jessi, and do some other impressive tricks. Jessi struggles with being bullied by one other student (the only other female human on board), but when she learns more about what exactly is going on, these issues fade into nothingness - suddenly people are in danger, and Jessi learns that even she is not who she thought she actually was.
Exchanger by K. E. Brungardt is the first part of a new series, and knowing this, it didn't come as a surprise that the end would be a cliffhanger with many questions still wanting answers! I hope the next book in the series won't be too far away. Apart from that, I found that this novel was a great way to spend some of my evenings - a couple of nights I stayed up a bit longer than planned because I had to read "just one more chapter" and we know how that goes. I enjoyed the way the characters changed a little over the course of the story, and how the relationship between Jessi and Zoe had such a dramatic twist. I'm wondering how that will continue. The idea of conscious hair and the DNA preservation project was very interesting, and I am sure there'll be some interesting, some terrifying, but also some rather amusing scenes coming up in the next book of the series.