What would you do if you were sixteen and you came across someone in the woods that changed your perspective of life completely? Someone that made you realize what you thought was real wasn’t actually reality. What I did was write about it, and it’s all here in this book.
I put all the original sketches in here too – over seventy illustrations by me, Tonya and Astol.
Earth 5 is awesome. I hope you like it too.
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.
This was an unusual story, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it so I came out of it not knowing whether I was disappointed at not having gotten it. I liked the approach Lindenhall has taken, using his own name as the character and making it read like his own personal account. It reads like a teenager who has written down the adventures of his friends, as it is supposed to be, and this is reflected in language, narration, and helps excuse some of the oddities.
The chapters are little snippets of stories and titbits rather than a flowing narrative but it all centres around the trio and their adventures during the holidays and their time with the alien Astol. Even understanding this, the narration is a bit irksome at times, the tone is odd and a lot of the time doesn’t sit right when you read it, but the story being told is likeable.
There are illustrations throughout which Lindenhall blends into the story nicely. Having the tone set as Hustin recapping his experiences with Astol means they can be slotted in suitably, and they are used constructively in the storytelling rather than just being added decoration to enhance description.
Hustin isn’t a bad narrator, he and Tonya help Astol with understanding how Earth works, both scientifically and socially, and together with the mini stories Astol gets exposed to various parts of our world. Having Hustin and Tonya describe the daily life and the social construct of Earth does make you realise how strange and peculiar the planet is, and it is a shallow reflection on what humanity has become and how we choose to spend our time. The story of Earth 5 and our place in the universe was quite interesting, and it adds a nice science fiction element to the story instead of just a simple deconstruction of Earth life being told to an alien by two teenagers.
The story ends with a “to be continued” which is intriguing in a way because it hints at future adventures, but it is trumped by feeling unsatisfied because it doesn’t feel like a conclusion. Hustin has a deep reflection on everything Astol told him and what he has experienced which starts as a nice resolution, but it’s only fleeting as he moves onto other things and it feels a tad unsatisfying; it feels like the story has been left hanging. While it is setting up for the next adventure, the first story seems unresolved and whether that means a better expression of Hustin’s reflection and discoveries with Astol is needed, or just a better sense of a conclusion I’m not sure. Either way, it is an interesting concept with a few creative science fiction elements that bumped it up to a three star story. Lindehall has been creative with his development of Astol’s universe and I think that is part of what makes this story work, in the comparison of his world with ours, making it much more than just a breakdown of Earth and all its peculiarities.
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