This was a surprisingly good tale that can be read either as a somber summer science-fiction read, or a deeper, allegorical refugee story. It's not a light read, by any means, and the ending is anything but certain, but we really enjoyed this.
Humans have mucked up (possibly blown up) the Earth and are essentially camping out on Mars in the interim, trying to figure out what to do. But the air processors are wearing out, water's running thin, the food is just...getting worse and sooner rather than later, people are going to have to move on. The planet humans had hoped to terraform, Novo, turns out to be both too far away and not terraformable.
Pretty soon, it's obvious the people in the Mars colony have two choices: go back to Earth, see what's left and try to survive; or travel to Choom, a planet with oxygen we can breathe, but...already populated by a large (bigger than human-sized) albeit intelligent, mosquito-looking aliens, and three other alien species.
Enter Lan and Ila Mifune, little brother and sister of two scientists who are working really hard to make the Choom option... welll, an option. A communique is sent to Choom and the Zhuri, the mosquito-aliens who run the planet agree to allow us to settle on Choom with the other species. They welcome us, even.
The Mars colony splits -- some head back to Earth, to wait a few thousand or tens of thousands of years for it to recuperate, and the other half head to Choom. Lan's older sister has a gorgeous voice, but she's still sulking about Earth's destruction and refuses to sing.
In the 20 years it takes the group to travel 60 trillion miles to reach Choom in bio-suspension things have changed. Drastically.
The Zhuri recind their welcome, saying they've viewed our histories and we're too violent. We evoke too much emotion in their people. They won't let us land on the planet, and food and air on the space ship are quick running out.
Lan's family manages to negotiate for the four of them to land and prove we've matured beyond our violent historical tendencies.
Lan and Ila go to Zhuri school. To prove, humans can co-exist with the Zhuri. As the only humans on the planet, they stand out. They're picked on. Lan ends up eating lunch with the two minority species on the planet, a small sharp-toothed Krik named Ezger, and a very intelligent blob-like Ororo named Marf.
Marf modifies Lan's communications device, and they can finally converse.
And Lan learns why humans are not welcome on Choom.
That third minority species the Zhuri mentioned, 20 years ago, when the Zhuri welcomed humans to Choom?
They're gone. Wiped out. By a swarm of emotion-soaked Zhuri.
I won't spoil how the story unfolds from there, but it was a great read, full of twists and turns. Enjoy!