From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion | Rating: ★★★★☆
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
From a Distant Star, from the looks of things, is gearing up to be one of the next great young adult books in the sci-fy genre and is sure to hit all the right marks with fans of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Adaptation by Malinda Lo and the hit 90s television series The X-Files. As for readers who have yet to find something in the genre they like, or are looking for a stepping stone to this genre, From a Distant Star could very well be the book they were waiting for.
In all truthfulness, I wasn't expecting to like this novel as much as I did. Although it had its flaws and at times the dialogue felt off to me, it was absolutely impossible to walk away from -- I found myself lost in the pages and concerned for these characters and their fates. Karen writes her story in a fast paced way, keeping it simple and entertaining for its audience without watering down the plots or the action.
The story is unique in many ways and still maintains a certain air of naivety and youth to it. McQuestion navigates the teenage mind wonderfully and reminds us what it's like to be young, certain and in love -- so in love, that one girl is willing to risk a lot just to make sure her true love doesn't leave her. From a Distant Star starts in a very raw and heartbreaking place: Emma's boyfriend, Lucas, is fading away fast due to the horrifying disease that is cancer.
Emma, however, keeps her hopes high and at an unbelievable level knowing that in spite of how bad his health is now, and the fact that he is in a coma, he will get better. She doesn't know how, but she feels it in her gut that this is not the time that Lucas will die. You feel pity for her in this bit of the story because she seems to be in complete denial -- something very common in the loved ones of those who are dying. No matter what, you can tell in her narration that she loves this boy more than anything and truly believes that this is not the end for him.
You sense the love and strength from Emma. She's very kind and brave and intelligent, a rather nice mix of traits, and her narration is overall a delight to read. Emma is realistic: she can be the girl next door, your best friend, your sister... anyone. Emma is living proof that sometimes you kick into gear in the shadows of tragedy and that anyone can be brave and resourceful.
Through her determination, she makes a great effort to keep her boyfriend from dying and remains optimistic. Something anyone in that position would do, really. Emma takes a chance and goes to a woman who is *known* for her witchcraft and spooky nature. She convinces this woman to help her cure Lucas, to save him from death. Emma is warned that while this will work, she may not like the end results. Lucas may not be the same and Emma is told of upcoming complications and interferences. Not to mention danger.
Emma, desperate, decides to take her chances as she gives Lucas this cure and waits patiently for results. In the meantime, she navigates complications through Lucas' parents (who aren't all that fond of our girl) and watches as a mysterious occurrence brings forth a group of agents who seem to be looking for something that crashed nearby. Although this isn't all that normal for anyone, there are many things that overshadow this event.
Our darling Emma's POV is interrupted a few times by other POVs mostly of another life form, who we come to know as Scout. Scout is from another place entirely and by accident, I don't want to spoil it all, he finds himself trapped on Earth with a very limited timeline unless he finds a host body to keep his consciousness safe until he can find a way home. Eventually, we see him become one of the complications as he takes refuge in a dying Lucas' body.
The events that follow are a blur of action and mystery and sees friendships form in unlikely places. It doesn't take long for this new Lucas to miraculously come back to the land of the healthy and living. Although he manages to pick up the language and come across as someone who is simply healing after such a horrible ordeal, Emma senses that he isn't the same -- just as she'd been warned. And she quickly learns that truth isn't at all simple -- in fact, it's unbelievable.
But it's just so unbelievable, she actually sees it as true. Teaming up with Lucas' helpful younger brother, Eric, a plan is set into motion and together Emma and Scout must find a way to get Scout back home. Emma is relieved to find out that Lucas is still alive and that once Scout can transfer elsewhere, she'll finally have her boyfriend back. This new found alliance definitely has its bumps, but overall Scout and Emma make a wonderful duo -- their friendship is strong and sweet and keeps the danger of their adventure from being dull.
I don't want to spoil the ending or anything more, but the story kept me on my toes the entire time. It was nice to see this fresh take on life on other planets and Scout's narration was very interesting to read. I would love to hear more of his home and have more than just a glimpse of these forms of life. Scout is caring and intelligent and although he doesn't seem to think highly of himself, he will certainly win over readers just as he won Emma's friendship and respect. Scout only makes it harder for us to say goodbye to him in his last act of kindness -- giving Emma and Lucas the opportunity to have something they never thought they would.
I'm serious! I want more. More Emma and Lucas. More Scout and all that is in his world. I just want more.
Overall, From a Distant Star was a joy to read and I'm incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to do so. It isn't any one genre, it's quite a few mixed and blended together in a way that keeps the story from being disappointing. There's always something going on and it never leaves its readers in a puddle of boredom. Action packed, the stress of nearly losing a loved one, teen angst filled and a dash of romance are just many of the elements you can look forward to in this story. This story has it all and will give you the ultimate feels.
I can't wait to find myself a physical copy (oh, I hope I can! I need this on my shelves!) and to reread it again someday soon.