One of my favorite things to read about is the human condition. I love to sit, depict and reflect on everything that makes us what we are. Love? Faith? Music? Mathematics? Utter confusion and lack of direction? Yes, all of it. I love it even more when this is discussed in a different, original way.
In today’s post, I’ll talk about three books I’ve read recently that did just that. For reasons unknown, they all involve aliens. I’m not particularly a fan of extraterrestrial matters, and I know that writing about aliens might not be exactly original, but I assure you these skilled authors didn’t disappoint.
This is a comic book/graphic novel (I can’t tell the difference, sorry if you’re a die-hard fan of this genre). I found Jonny on Twitter and immediately related with his ramblings. His book’s premise really intrigued me, because who doesn’t end up thinking about the meaning of life every now and then? So I bought it. And I was not disappointed.
The story is a simple, yet deep look into what makes us humans. We follow our little alien friend as he’s sent to earth to study us, humans. Except, he never meets any humans. Which, for me, was a genius take on the story.
He goes about making friends with different creatures while learning what life – and living – means to each of them. It’s full of warm, poignant, truthful moments and statements. I feel it’s one of those books that you can read at different times of your life and find new meanings.
Also, I totally cried at “the universe is most generous when somehow, against all odds, it finds a way of telling you you’re seeing something for the last time in your life”. It’s one of my favorite quotes now.
I started this one right after “Everyone’s a Aliebn”, and let me say… this book was an experience. Their premises are almost the same, although this one felt like a deeper exploration of what Jonny talked about in his work.
In this one, we follow a nameless alien as he is sent to earth to erase evidences of a life-changing discovery. And to kill those who know about it.
I found it surprisingly easy to relate to our alien narrator. Right off the bat he makes us question some of our basic human concepts, and I think we’ve all been there more than once. From the simple fact to wearing clothes to the more complex issues of love, his reflections felt so real they were almost scary. I really liked the way he was inserted in our world, and how nobody notices he’s not human. This is hard to do. I’ve read books that tried to play with similar things, but they were never as convincing as in this book.
There’s a lot of mathematics in it, too. It holds a great deal of the plot together, and even though I don’t understand the first thing about numbers, it didn’t bother me. In fact, it may have helped me to buy the story even more. I really enjoyed the main character’s arc, the way his views change and he starts to ‘become’ human as the story goes. I really liked the humor and the criticism, even the darker moments, and there are more than one.
Even though you know what is the obvious conclusion of the book as you start reading it, I think Matt made a good job of getting us there.
My only real problem with this book was the end. There’s a point when you feel the story is over, but the book goes, and it was kind of unnecessary. I felt like the only purpose of it was to spell out what the reader should take from the story, and it was kind of frustrating.
To end on a positive note, though, I think Jonny Sun was right, after all – everyone IS an alien when you’re an alien, too.
Here we follow a human narrator, Henry Denton. He’s being periodically abducted by aliens for years. As you can imagine, this has had all sorts of consequences in his personal and social life. And then, one day, the aliens warn him about the upcoming end of the world, and give him the chance to stop it. Only he doesn’t know if he wants to.
After all, life hasn’t been great for Henry. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. His brother is a jobless dropout who just knocked someone up. His grandmother is slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s. And Henry is still dealing with the grief of his boyfriend’s suicide last year. Yet, as Henry is a scientist above all, he starts to measure the pros and cons of this decision.
I absolutely LOVED this book! It’s my favorite I read so far this year. I cried a lot. I developed feelings for every single character, even the ones that weren’t even in the actual story, like the late boyfriend. I loved the tone of the book, that it isn’t necessarily a message of hope, but it’s also not one of doom. I loved that there were so many things happening at once with everyone, good things and bad things, because that’s just how life goes. It felt pretty realistic, even though the premise is not.
And I loved Henry. He’s such a relatable character, I felt everything he was going though and found myself asking ‘why are people like this?’ one too many times. I loved his personality, his sense of humor, his heart.
There are some sections in the book, odd chapters, where Henry describes possible ways for the world to end. These were some of my favorite parts. Some of them are just plain ridiculous, but some are so real they’re almost scary (like one where he predicts the extinction of bees. This is so close to happening!)
I think that more than a look into human kind, this book showed us how to look into ourselves. I loved that it is a huge ‘putting things into perspective’ thing, but even when we know it doesn’t matter, that everything is going to end and everyone is going to die, we can’t put things into perspective. We can’t let go. We hurt, we seek answers, we want to believe.
Yes, in the end, it doesn’t matter. But it does. It matters a lot.
» If you’d like to know what I’m reading and follow my reviews, you can find me on Goodreads!
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