I have loved Mike Chen’s books ever since his debut, Here and Now and Then. These SF books are full of unique and inventive worlds with characters who will consistently tug at your heartstrings. Keep reading this book review if you want to read my last five star read of 2021!
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Light Years from Home is a SF family story. A book that will wring tears from your eyes, laughter from your heart, and carve itself into your soul. It’s full of action, family dynamics, and a story about siblings. About the things we think we know about the ones we love. About the lies we tell the ones we love and the lies we tell ourselves. These relationships with some of our closest people on the planet, and the distance in between.
The family drama and exploration in Light Years from Home is epic and poignant. There were moments I was close to tears and others with tears streaming down my face. How people can come into our lives, disappear, and appear in front of our eyes. Thematically, Light Years from Home explores belief and perception. How we are forced to confront not only what we know about the world, but about the ones we love and ourselves.
Light Years from Home is character driven. As Evie, Kass and Jakob figure out the spaces where they’ve changed and morphed, formed and eroded. Those movements that we recognize without words, and the hollowness in eyes we seek to place. If you love Mike Chen’s books, then this is an easy choice. But if you’re new to Chen’s work, then know that Light Years from Home manages to balance inventive and detailed world building with an emotional character and family driven story.
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