Thursday, June 4, 2015

June's Author Spotlight Karen McQuestion

This is a new author that was recommended to me by readers and followers on Facebook. I reached our to Karen on Twitter to ask permission to review one of her books as our June spotlight author and she responded with a review copy of From a Distant Star her new YA Novel. To say I was overcome with excitement would be putting it mildly as I immediately jumped on messenger and notified fellow book review blogger Roxanne about the exciting news. What followed was some awesome back and forth tweets between McQuestion and myself and a few e-mails as well which led me to believe this would be one review that would have a more personal feel. In this day and age of online publishing and the younger generation picking up more books and watching less t.v. Authors have become more like rock stars and Hollywood celebrities. I for one do a happy dance every time an author tweets with me or responds to a facebook message. I will gladly be the one standing in line for three hours just to get my favorite authors signature.

Without further ado it is my great pleasure to bring to you in the first month of summer my review for From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion.

This is a stand alone book so no long term commitment needed to enjoy it and it's a great in between series release dates book as well.

From a Distant Star is a YA Sci-Fi fiction piece centered around a young teenage girl named Emma. Emma’s boyfriend Lucas Walker has stage four cancer and is dying when a space ship (about the size of a pie plate) crash lands in the Walker’s farm fields. Scout, the extra-terrestrial inside, survives by hitching a ride on Lucas’s dog Mack.  Mack is called inside by Lucas’s mother Mrs. Walker and Scout then jumps from Mack to Lucas. Scout cures Lucas’s cancer in order to have a healthier host body while he tries to find a way to get back to his home planet. Emma and Lucas’s brother Eric work together to come up with a plan to help Scout do just that. This is the set up for the rest of the book. Emma trying to help Scout get home so that Lucas can have his body back, healthy and cured of cancer.

One of the things that struck me while reading From a Distant Star was the dichotomy between Scouts home world society and Earths. I thought McQuestion did a great job in illustrating those differences through clever dialogue between Scout and Emma. This really showed during the car ride when they are on their way to Erickson Ryder the outpost responsible for sending the friendly message that lured Scouts people to the area in the first place.

There is humor in Scouts naivety toward humans and our American culture. His innocence in dealing with strangers and his interactions with Emma lend the book both an overall sense of hope and sweetness that is usually lacking in a Sci-Fi story. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue between Scout and Emma illustrates both this naivety and humor. Scout and Emma have just escaped from the Erickson Ryder Scientist and Emma says to Scout “I can’t believe that just happened”.
“You can believe it” Scout said “It did happen”.

Scout just doesn't understand slang or clich├ęs or even stereotyping as evidenced by a scene where Emma tries to explain to Scout why she was nervous to approach the Bar None. Emma tries explaining to Scout about biker bars and Scout keeps asking her how she knew it would be dangerous. Eventually Emma has to acknowledge her own prejudice and stereotyping. Scout attempts to understand how humans can judge each other before they've met and gotten to know each other. Finally Emma tells him that it takes a long time to get to know someone so humans use clothing, cars, jobs and other trappings of society to judge a person’s intentions. Scout points out that Emma was wrong in her assumption and we see Emma begin to question her own stance on such things.

One of the major themes repeated throughout From a Distant Star is the green aspect of living. On numerous occasions Scout tells us on his home planet that everyone lives in harmony with each other including the animals. Scout doesn’t understand humans eating animals because on his planet they can communicate with all the animals and thus they live side by side with them. They don’t farm in the human sense of the word and as a people they take only what they need. Scouts people also don’t use fossil fuels they have other cleaner ways of getting energy though that’s not really explained in any detail it’s hinted that it’s an advanced form of Solar Energy.

McQuestions’ new book gives us an up close viewpoint of our culture and our global presence from an outsiders point of view that I found to be both accurate, if a bit uncomfortable at times, and charming as well.

Emma and Scout learn a lot from their time spent together on this crazy adventure and if you take nothing else from this book it’s that we can all learn something from someone different and better off for it.

I very much enjoyed From a Distant Star and will be looking to include more of Karen McQuestion’s books into my kindle library. If you’d like to get your own copy of this book you can purchase it at any of the online e-book retailers such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Apple i-Books. 

To see more of Karen McQuestion’s titles you can visit her on the web at and sign up for her newsletter or follow her on Twitter.

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