Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: What Came from the Stars

For the holidays, I'll be reviewing a book or series a day from December 1st through 24th.

Today's book is What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt, one of our holiday picks for middle grade readers.

On a far away planet, the ages of piece are disrupted by the violent coup of a dark lord.  The keepers of the planet's collected knowledge and art forge that knowledge into a chain and send it away, out of their solar system, out of their galaxy, into the lunch box of 12-year-old Tommy Pepper.  When Tommy finds the chain, he's able to do things he's never done before and things no human has ever done before.  But when vicious storms and ransacked houses start spreading across his town, it seems like something else might be after the chain.

Reading the description of this book, it's easy to think you know how things will go and how it will read.  If you've read anything by Schmidt before (Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, The Wednesday Wars, Okay for Now), you'll know it's not that simple.  Schmidt's writing has a way of elevating his material and becoming a character all by itself.  He has transformed what in other hands might be a sweeping epic with literally universal consequences into a quiet story of an alien war that's most profound effect is on the domestic tranquility of a newly-broken family living on the Eastern seaboard.  Hearing that, you may think he took a great idea and made it boring.  But no, he still tells a story full of action with threatening monsters and noble heroes fighting to the end, but he's also made it deeply personal to a character most kids will find easy to relate to.

This book is recommended for science fiction and fantasy fans looking for something on the literary end of that spectrum, literary fiction fans looking to get into genre, or any fans of fantastic writing.

What Came from the Stars is published by Clarion Books and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read an Advance Readers Copy from the publisher.  You can get your at Left Bank Books today!

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