REVIEW SUMMARY: A humorous romp through the trials and tribulations of human’s first contact with aliens.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A first contact story like no other — aliens finally come to Earth, but because their forms are distasteful, need an image makeover and hire a Hollywood agent to introduce them to humanity.
PROS: Scalzi’s prose is very readable and kept me engaged to the end.
CONS: I suspected the ending halfway through.
BOTTOM LINE: A humorous read and, because of it’s personable writing style, a book I’d recommend to someone usually intimidated by reading Science Fiction.
What stood out for me most with Agent to the Stars is the more humorous writing style and upbeat tone than what I’ve encountered in a few of John Scalzi’s other books. While I enjoyed those other books, Agent to the Stars reads very easily, much like Scalzi’s Whatever blog. Because the storytelling is never bogged down in techspeak, I’ll likely recommend this book to a few friends who normally steer clear of Science Fiction.
Often first contact stories depict good guy aliens as humanoid and bad guy aliens as hideous. Scalzi turned this trope on its head and created good guy aliens with many of the traits humans find distressing, not the least of which is their gelatinous appearance and lack of anything resembling a face. The only plus for the Yherajk is that they don’t look like arachnids, but they are indeed really, really stinky.
Scalzi uses humor to deal with provocative issues such as mind control and the presence or lack of one’s soul. The story is written in first person, so I stumbled briefly over a point of view switch, but in hindsight understand why Scalzi made the choice to tell the story this particular way. By far my favorite character was Miranda, the protagonist’s quirky and forthright assistant. I can only hope that at some point humans teach the Yherajk some nice smells to expand their odiferous repertoire.
Overall, Agent to the Stars is a pleasurable read and I hope one day Scalzi decides to write another Science Fiction comedy.