Friday, April 14, 2023

Book Review: On Earth as It Is on Television

Since long before the spaceships’ fleeting presence, Blaine has been content to go along with the whims of his supermom wife and half-feral, television-addicted children. But when the kids blithely ponder skinning people to see if they’re aliens, and his wife drags them all on a surprise road trip to Disney World, even steady Blaine begins to crack.

Half a continent away, Heather floats in a Malibu pool and watches the massive ships hover overhead. Maybe her life is finally going to start. For her, the arrival heralds a quest to understand herself, her accomplished (and oh-so-annoying) stepfamily, and why she feels so alone in a universe teeming with life.

Suddenly conscious and alert after twenty catatonic years, Oliver struggles to piece together his fragmented, disco-infused memories and make sense of his desire to follow a strange cat on a westward journey.

On Earth as It Is on Television, the debut novel by Emily Jane, will be released on June 13, 2023. Hyperion Avenue provided an early galley for review.

The prologue starts out fairly straightforward, but then the story jumps right into a chaotic mode. If the goal of the author was to give the reader a true sense of chaos, then I believe she achieved that in spades. As I read from chapter to chapter, I could feel that sense of disarray and confusion that the characters were feeling. It is not somewhere I am comfortable at all; my preferred mode is order and clarity.

The book does eventually settle down, tying into the three storylines - the husband/wife (Blaine and Anne), the stepchild (Heather) and the brother (Oliver). Some of these had a stronger appeal, for me, than the others. They seem like more human-centric stories, tied together by this over-arching alien visitation with cats and TV sprinkled in. It all does start to make sense, though, when the third act of the book kicks in.

In the end, it was definitely a different sort of approach to sci-fi. I think it will strike the perfect chord with some readers who like a lighter, human-centric approach to the genre.

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