The final volume of Julie Czerneda’s Web Shifter’s trilogy arrived, so I dropped everything to read it. Esen-alit-Quar is my favorite of her characters.
I am fascinated by authors who try to explore what it would really be like to interact with alien life. C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series is probably the best example of this, but in this series Esen is an alien trying to blend in. What makes her especially alien is that she doesn’t have much in the way of a natural form. Her default shape is just an undifferentiated and essentially indestructible blob, but she is able to transform herself into anything that she has consumed. Here’s a character to whom all life is foreign and strange.
This is light science fiction with more emphasis on the characters than the science. Esen has been trained by her family on how to blend in and pass as a native, but she’s young and impulsive and not very good at keeping a low profile. In many ways this series is a “coming of age” story.