Great McCaffrey book. I had always been a fan of the Pern series (more fantasy than sci-fi), but couldn't really get into the more sci-fi (space-oriented) books of hers until this one. I will definitely continue this series!
It is the near future and humanity has, after a valiant struggle, been overpowered in an invasion by a fierce warrior race known as the Catteni. These aliens have scouted out other Earth-like planets and come up a simple test to determine if they're fit for habitation: Maroon captured malcontents from conquered races there, and see if they manage to survive.
In a former life, Kris Bjornsen was an ordinary college student in Denver, but now she finds herself in a struggle for survival on a totally unknown world. Equally startling is the deep friendship she finds herself forming with an outlawed Catteni who's been dropped on the planet with humans who want to murder him simply for being of the same species as their oppressors. The only thing worse than being dropped with her fellow ersatz colonists on this place unimaginably far from home is the fact that they do not seem to be alone here. But in addition to the mysterious predators who snatch one's friends away in the night, some of the refugees themselves may be the worst enemies of our Heinlein-esque heroine, as a struggle unfolds to establish a fair and ordered society in the midst of danger and scarcity.
Absolutely great read. Inventive and imagination capturing story.