From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion
I received a copy of this novel on NetGalley for an honest review.
Seventeen-year-old Emma was the only one who hadn’t given up on her boyfriend, Lucas. Everyone else—his family, his friends, his doctors—believed that any moment could be his last. So when Lucas miraculously returns from the brink of death, Emma thinks her prayers have been answered.
As the surprised town rejoices, Emma begins to question whether Lucas is the same boy she’s always known. When she finds an unidentifiable object on his family’s farm—and government agents come to claim it—she begins to suspect that nothing is what it seems. Emma’s out-of-this-world discovery may be the key to setting things right, but only if she and Lucas can evade the agents who are after what they have. With all her hopes and dreams on the line, Emma sets out to save the boy she loves. And with a little help from a distant star, she might just have a chance at making those dreams come true.
I really enjoyed reading this novel although it was semi-difficult due to the file only working on my iPhone. I wrecked these eyes reading! 🙂 Okay, so mild spoilers. I mean you can pretty much gather it from the cover, the title and the description.
It’s aliens. I love anything science fiction so when I saw this cover on NetGalley, I knew I had to give it a shot. The cover has such a gorgeous design with the galaxies and bright colors. I was really excited to see how McQuestion would interpret aliens into her own story.
The plot is where the book lost points for me. It is basically a retelling of ET. Very early on (so spoilers for the first 30 or so pages), an alien life form crash lands on earth and has to find a way to survive by entering the body of an earth life form. The majority of the story is Emma, our protagonist, trying to help Scout, the alien, to find a way to communicate with his people so that he can get back home. I did like the fact that Scout had to use other bodies to survive in the mean time, but the core of the story was the plot of ET.
I think that the opening was done very well and it drew me into the story. By having the family dog Mack find Scout, the reader got an interesting and seldom seen perspective of a dog. The way McQuestion described Mack’s reaction to the shiny object was adorable. Mack wary of the unfamiliar scent of the object but, as McQuestion wrote, “It had been a longstanding tradition that Mack brought back anything of interest from his explorations, something that never failed to delight the boy.” The way Mack is given thoughts that show he wants to please his master, that he has to remind the family to feed him while they are preoccupied with Lucas’s sickness, and that his barks mean something to how he is trying to communicate was so cute and an interesting perspective.
What I liked most about this novel was the character of Scout. His innocence was adorable. He doesn’t understand why people on Earth fight among themselves when it is detrimental to all parties. He also doesn’t understand why people judge others based on how they look, as demonstrated with his welcoming of the kindly moonshine runners they meet on their travels in a roadside trucker bar. His naïve comments are hilarious, asking Emma why she signs her emails that she is less than three. (<3)
I was more conflicted on the character of Emma. She stayed by Lucas’s side every day and night during his sickness with the only exception being school. I can completely understand her reasoning and dedication but I also can see how that put a strain on Lucas’s family. I sympathized greatly with the mother who resented Emma because she was spending so much time at his side that his family barely had any time to spend alone as he lay dying. I felt that she was a bit selfish when there were so many other people suffering.
There were several different baddies in From a Distant Star including shady government agencies, greedy research scientists, and people who want to make contact with aliens to annihilate them as revenge for a supposed abduction. I liked the ideas of all of these people but I felt that they were not given enough background to feel like fully formed enemies. Since there were so many people trying to prevent Scout from going home, I felt like the interactions with each group were superficial and could have been expanded more. Also, due to so many enemies, the ending felt rushed as the author tied up each conflict too neatly and easily.
- Sci-fi! Aliens! Shady government agencies!
- Scout is adorable
- Makes you think about how poorly we treat one another
The Not So Good
- It is basically ET, let me wanting something a bit more original
- Left a lot to be desired in relation to the background of the government agencies, alien hunters, and research scientists
- The ending felt rushed and resolved too easily for all parties
I would recommend this to someone who likes science fiction and aliens. Scout and his reasoning are why I really enjoyed this book. Don’t pick this up if you are expecting an epic space novel with world building and in-depth characterization. For me, the novel was still an entertaining and quick read.