I’ve found myself wanting to read some alien stories recently, dunno why, but I decided to start my exploration with It Came From The Sky by Chelsea Sedoti – it’s an alien story with no aliens.
I know, kinda an exercise in futility there right? Well, no actually. It Came From The Sky was a lot of fun and looks into the human element of alien interaction – or lack thereof! Couple that with some fun characters and an interesting format for storytelling and you’ve got an enjoyable read!
Chelsea Sedoti is not new to the novel scene, but this was the first time I’ve read her work and I had a really good time. It Came From The Sky starts with a bang – quite literally. Gideon, a boy genius trope of a character is experimenting with a small explosion on his parent’s farmland. He’s doing this to test his seismograph. However, his brother Ishmael, unbeknownst to Gideon, messes around with the experiment and instead of a small bang a huge one takes place, causing a huge crater in the farmland.
Ishmael, ever the prankster – it’s kind of his thing in the way that boy-genius is Gideon’s thing – blames it on something falling from the sky and before the two boys know it an alien hoax has been born. Ishmael likes the prank aspect of it and Gideon wants to use it as a sociological experiment on the town to hopefully use for his admissions package to MIT.
What ensues is a story with some good humour in places, plenty of absolutely ridiculous scenarios – be prepared to suspend your disbelief a couple of times, some (not all) well-rounded characters, and an engaging story for the most part.
I wasn’t initially sure I was going to like It Came From The Sky when I first started reading it, and this was mostly because of Gideon. I’ve nothing against the boy-genius trope – I enjoyed Dexter’s Laboratory on Cartoon Network when I was a kid – but I just found him quite irritating.
I appreciate he’s an extreme introvert with some issues understanding social cues but I found his character quite stilted and the way he spoke just seemed (for lack of a better word and wanting to use a pun) alien to me. I just couldn’t believe that that’s how a real human boy would speak.
As the book went on Gideon grew on me a little bit, but I have to admit that I never truly connected to Gideon. But that’s not to say that he didn’t grow as a character or go on his own little journey, because he did. But I don’t feel like we, as readers, ever got to connect with Gideon on a deeper level as the whole book is written pretty much as an experiment write up, so we didn’t get too much insight into Gideon’s inner thoughts and feelings.
Speaking of the novel being written as a science experiment I really enjoyed the mixed format aspects of It Came From The Sky. The main narrative of the story was often broken up with interview snippets, blog posts and other fun aspects that helped give a wider understanding of the world around the story. I feel like they added to the layering of the story really well without breaking focus or tone.
However, this story also had footnotes which, honestly, were not necessary in the slightest and ended up being more irritating than informative.
So I’ve mentioned Gideon and Ishmael briefly, but some of the other characters deserve a mention too. Let me start with Maggie, the sister of Gideon and Ishmael. She ends up starting a cult-like group during the story and it just felt so disjointed and unnecessary. I think the whole aspect could have been cut out of the book and it would have been much better because it wasn’t fleshed out and so it didn’t make any sense.
We also had an MLM (multi-level marketing aka pyramid scheme rip-off) company in this story and I adored the way the author exposed them as a scam via the leader. It’s so refreshing to see some anti-MLM stuff, especially in books! The rivalry between Gideon and Oz (the CEO of the MLM) was, at first, a bit odd but I quickly got on board with it.
There was a romance in It Came From The Sky and it really didn’t add much to the story for me. I felt like it was used as a quick secondary aspect to give Gideon something else in his life other than his studies. That’s all very well and good, but it just didn’t do anything. Either do the romance or don’t – it just felt like unnecessary fluff to pad out the book further.
which, by the way, it didn’t need because it was already 500 pages long and honestly that page count is too high for the story itself. There were several ideas that weren’t fully realised throughout It Came From The Sky and they should have been cut.
The formula went: Gideon had a plan, Ishmael did something to deviate from it, Gideon didn’t like it, chaos ensues. And that’s how the book went, round and round. it got a bit much at times.
However please don’t let these negatives put you off, these are just my own personal opinions. Ultimately It Came From The Sky was a really fun read and seeing the story progress and the characters get deeper and deeper into lies was a good giggle.
There was character growth, an engaging story and some genuinely comedic moments. yes, there were some issues but all-in-all it was a fun experience!
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