Book review: From a Distant Star

From a Distant StarFrom a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some spoilers ahead but nothing that should detract much from the story.

From a Distant Star is one of those books I bought because it was on sale and the premise interested me. I otherwise had no idea about what to expect.

As it turns out, it’s a Young Adult adventure, something I wouldn’t normally read, but I was captivated by the opening scene from the family dog’s perspective. After that the story shifts mainly to a first person narrative as told by 17-year-old Emma Larson as she recalls how her boyfriend Lucas gets stricken with terminal cancer, miraculously recovers and then, along with Emma, gets caught up in a lot of hijinks involving sinister federal agents, a “witch” and people who are clearly not fans of Ancient Aliens. Or any aliens.

McQuestion capably channels the neuroses and exaggerated, still-developing emotions of Emma, presenting her as resilient, dedicated and resourceful, but still very much a teenager, prone to behavior that seems perfectly logical to a teenage mind and…less so to an adult one. Her utter devotion to her high school sweetheart at times feels like puppy love gone off the deep end, but then again, high school sweethearts sometimes do get married–and stay married.

The character of Scout, a kind of teenage Starman, is handled well. Watching him adapt to Lucas’s body, to Emma and to his human “family” is amusing and offers up numerous opportunities to hold up a mirror on how humans act–usually to our detriment.

The book shifts gears fairly abruptly around the midway point, going from a fish-out-of-water tale to a more conventional on-the-run thriller, but it stays tonally consistent and once the pace picks up it steams along to the conclusion.

I am left wondering if the character of Mrs Kokesh was actually needed. More than any other, she seemed to exist to service the plot, fading into the background until the plot required her again.

Conversely, Lucas’s younger brother Eric, wise beyond his 14 years, felt under-utilized.

These are minor flaws, though. Overall, this is a quick, light and at times adorable read. I can’t say what the intended audience would think of this story, but I found it a cute diversion and a nice change-up from my usual fare.

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