From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=dantra0c-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1477830170&asins=1477830170&linkId=5FRNU4P326GL6JGG&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=trueSeventeen-year-old Emma’s boyfriend is dying from cancer. Everyone in his family has accepted this fact, but not Emma. She has a plan.

Emma gets the town “witch” to concoct a potion to bring Lucas back from the verge of death and – surprisingly – it works. Or it seems to, at least. Apparently, the voodoo magic isn’t what causes Lucas to wake up from his comatose state, but rather an alien spacecraft had just crash landed in the yard, and the occupant has taken up residence in Lucas’ body. While Lucas’ family is just thrilled to have him awake, Emma knows that something is amiss. The alien spills the beans, and the two hatch a plan to get him home and to restore Lucas to his now-healed body.

The plot of From a Distant Star is absolutely ridiculous, but as I embraced this fact early on, I was actually able to somewhat enjoy the novel. Maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word, but I will admit that I did not hate the book. The thing is, it fails at transcending the pit that most books in this genre fall in to. Most YA fiction is either A.) Teens showing adults what’s what in a post-apocalyptic world or B.) Teens showing adults what’s what through some sort of forbidden romance. Either way, adults tend to be the out-of-touch enemy in both categories.

From a Distant Star embodies the latter option. While Emma doesn’t exactly fall in love with the alien, Lucas’ parents had frowned upon the seriousness of the relationship, particularly in light of his rapidly failing health. I’ve said this before, but John Green is one of the elite few able to do this genre justice, and here’s why: bad YA makes you feel old and think that teenagers are stupid; good YA makes you feel empathy and remember what it was like to be at that awkward stage of life. McQuestion’s novel had me empathizing with the parents. I refuse to take this as a sign that I am getting old and choose, instead, to blame the author. Sorry, Karen.

So, witchcraft, aliens, cancer, love, and government conspiracy all come together in From a Distant Star to form a clumsy yet not terribly awful trainwreck of a novel.

 

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