Jun 052014
Review: What Came from the StarsWhat Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt
Published by Clarion Books on Sept 4, 2012
Genres: Science Fiction, YA
Format: ARC from BEA 2012
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

The Valorim are about to fall to a dark lord when they send a necklace containing their planet across the cosmos, hurtling past a trillion starsall the way into the lunchbox of Tommy Pepper, sixth grader, of Plymouth, Mass. Mourning his late mother, Tommy doesn't notice much about the chain he found, but soon he is drawing the twin suns and humming the music of a hanorah. As Tommy absorbs the art and language of the Valorim, their enemies target him. When a creature begins ransacking Plymouth in search of the chain, Tommy learns he must protect his family from villains far worse than he's ever imagined.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This was an intriguing YA story told in alternating chapters between Tommy on Earth, and the Valorim on their home planet. The viewpoints were quite distinct, and yet went together easily. Tommy’s chapters were all present time, focusing on the current action, while the Valorim chapters started with the history of events leading to Tommy’s possession of the chain, and continued up to and including the events that happened after Tommy’s story ended.

Unlike a lot of YA science fiction, there was no dumbing down on the details. The Valorim were a well thought out race, with a complete history. The names of people, races, and events were a little unpronounceable, which is something I dislike about most sci-fi, but they were as complete as any adult sci-fi concept. As an adult reader, I appreciate this detail. The story itself is told in an appropriately YA manner, but the overall feel of it is still satisfying for an older reader.

Tommy was a very likable character. I felt really bad for him, and his father and sister. They’ve obviously been having a bad year, and yet they are surviving quite admirably. A lot of the story features regular events and thoughts, which makes the sci-fi parts more realistic and easier to believe in. The blending of sci-fi and real life was quite masterful.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, even with the unpronounceable words. The main character and plot are appropriate for YA, especially male readers who would be able to identify with Tommy’s age, and yet it is still written at a level that is enjoyable for older readers too. This is a book that surprised me with its depths, and one that I would easily recommend.

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