Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review: Aliens in the Gift Shop

Near-final cover
(from the author's website -
where you can get the first
chapter for free)
Aliens in the Gift Shop by D.E. Morris

I had the privilege of being a beta tester for D.E. Morris' freshman outing, Aliens in the Gift Shop.  Aliens tells the tale of an alien race that's researching Earth. They have not yet made official contact - Earth is unaware of any other alien races - but it's an early scouting expedition to become more familiar with Earth. The two aliens come from a much more advanced race whose beings have the ability to travel through space as well as, we learn later, possess advanced weaponry and technology that can transfer consciousness.  Without giving too much away, this race is also in a trade dispute with another race and they eventually become involved as well.

This book is contains well-developed characters with their own worlds, complete with consistent idiosyncrasies and idioms but you don't have to work hard to get into the story, it's very accessible.  It's also very funny.

There are times where you'll get specific descriptions but there's also plenty where you get enough to follow along without it being lost in the weeds.

This was fun to read and I also had the added bonus of being able to see the writer's process through their blog as they worked through pacing and order.  One really cool piece I hadn't considered that they also worked through was creating a map. There's no map in the book (at least not the advance Kindle copy I read) and I'm not sure it needs a map, but the author created a map so that they could better plan out the action sequences in the streets and alleys around the gift shop.

Those who know me will have seen me rail against the plot-device that's overused on CBS of showing you something and then going back in time to show you how they got there.  This book uses a "meanwhile, earlier and elsewhere" device to give additional necessary backstory and in this case it works.  The organization of the book allows you to get into one story and then jump to an entirely different story that's racing towards the same point.  This works almost as an intermission or getting a second book for free.  Lining them up in a more strictly linear fashion wouldn't have worked as well, so i'd say it's a completely useful use of the device. Unlike a particular CBS show set on a tropical island state which apparently can't afford decent writers.

D.E. Morris used to work for me and it was great to be able to talk to him about the writing process and I really enjoyed his new book.  Aliens in the Gift Shop is scheduled for a Fall 2013 debut.

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