Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Light Years From Home
Author: Mike Chen
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: very slight mention that a MC is attracted to women, character with dementia
Recommended For…: sci-fi, generational trauma, aliens
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Age Relevance: 16+ (language, parental death, drugs, theft, mental health, gore)
Explanation of Above: There is cursing in the book. There is a mention of parental death and it is detailed. There are drugs mentioned occasionally in the book. There are a couple of scenes involving theft of property. Mental health is discussed a lot in the book, including dementia, schizophrenia is mentioned, and delusions of grandeur are discussed. There is some gore with blood shown in the book.
Publisher: Mira Books
Synopsis: Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.
Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.
When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.
The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself.
Review: For the most part I liked the book. I liked how the book discussed the strain of family relations when someone goes missing and I loved how it was in the context of an alien abduction. Mostly when we read sci-fi, most of the story is from the viewpoint of the abductee but in this book 90% of the POV is from the family members who are left behind and who are picking up the pieces. I’ve been getting into generational trauma a lot since the Encanto movie, and this book explores some themes of that as well (the strain the father put on the family is the same that the young sibling puts on the family and the mother who is left to pick up the pieces falls to the oldest sibling who does the same while the middle one is missing and has their own adventure free of family). While the trope used in the book is a well known one and the book is predictable, I loved how the reactions of the family wasn’t and it did keep me guessing until the end. The character development was well done, the world building was good, and the pacing was pretty good.
However, I did have a couple of issues. The book spent a lot of time going back and forth between the past and present, but the way that it was presented in the book was confusing at times. The ending was also rushed in my opinion.
Verdict: It was good!