Alien life does exist, or at least that’s what Alex discovers when she travels to Arizona to intern for the summer at Circe. Part “Men In Black,” part high school romance, “How to Date an Alien” by Magan Vernon is a quirky young adult comedy. It was an enjoyable read, but I have my pros and cons.
Here’s the breakdown.
—Ace/Alex interactions: What do you say to an alien that just saved your life, especially when you just found out alien life exists? I can tell Vernon had a lot of fun writing the Alex and Ace scenes. It shows in the dialog and in the descriptions. They immediately have chemistry, even though his DNA is out of this world. These were the scenes that had me smiling the most.
—Alex’s unwavering attitude in the face of discrimination: This was a pro that I thought about for a long time. I wasn’t sure if Vernon did it on purpose, or if it was a plot device that grew to be more than anticipated. But, I love how Alex stands up to peer pressure and bigotry when it comes to first defending her friendship with Ace, and then defending her relationship with him. The logic behind the naysayers was irrational, built on fear of the unknown and of differences. However, it was a welcomed twist to an old problem, and it just goes to show that ignorance breeds contempt and discrimination. I’m glad Alex gave them all an education.
—You can never leave high school: I loved how Vernon broke down the social structure of Circe. It’s basically high school, with the popular kids, the nerds, and everyone in between. Only, it’s not based on your interests, but on your extra-solar origins. I think anyone who remembers high school, or is living it currently, can relate to the social atmosphere at Circe. It also gives a boost to the ignorant logic associated with why everyone is against Alex and Ace as a couple.
—First person POV: This has to be my least favorite POV and runs head to head with third omnipotent on my level of dislike. I’ve mentioned before my issues with it. I have a hard time reading it, especially since I want a clear picture in my mind as I read. And, when Alex is blindsided for example, it gave me moments of “wait, what just happened?” Because she couldn’t see it from her perspective, I couldn’t see it. This POV always makes me feel like I’m looking at a picture that is blurry and out of focus, so I have a hard time in general with any novel in first POV. This is my personal preference, so I don’t think anyone who likes first will have an issue.
—Typos, formatting, paragraph breaks: Most people read over mistakes in this area, but I notice the little things, such as incorrect punctuation, run-on sentences, inconsistent styles, and — a big one if you have ever lived in Flagstaff — the use of University of Northern Arizona when it’s Northern Arizona University. The errors actually pulled me out of the story, tripping me up and disrupting the flow of action, and then I have to backtrack. I few times I also lost my place on my Kindle because of some of the paragraph lengths, but that I managed to fix by adjusting the page settings. That one really isn’t on Vernon, but definitely something indie authors should consider for the e-editions. Long paragraphs are not e-book friendly, I’m discovering.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with “How to Date an Alien” and I think you will, too. Check it out.