Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 8 hours and 49 minutes (365 pages)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: December 7, 2010
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Previously I have read Scalzi’s books Red Shirts and Fuzzy Nation and really enjoyed them all. This was another hilarious, yet sincere book by Scalzi…I enjoyed it a lot.
I listened to this on audiobook (as I have with all of Scalzi’s books that I have read). Wil Wheaton is the narrator (as with the other Scalzi books I have listened to). He does an excellent job with character voices and is just an excellent narrator overall.
Tom Stein is an agent to Hollywood stars, well he actually doesn’t have a ton of stars on his roster aside from Michelle Beck (a star who basically got her first role because she was hot). Then his boss calls him into his office and asks if Tom would like to work on a special project. Tom agrees only to find out that his boss wants him to do something a bit out of this world. He wants Tom to represent the member of an alien race called the Yherjak, who are smelly, gelatinous and believe that the best way to introduce humanity to their race is through film.
This is a very funny novel for a lot of reasons. First of all the Yherjak are pretty much the type of alien humanity would hate. They are smelly and they are gelatinous, they are in no way humanoid. There are a lot of things about the film industry that are just crazy hilarious as well. All that combined with the fact that a super intelligent alien race has decided that the best way to introduce themselves to humanity as a whole is through US based film and you have a pretty darn funny book.
It’s not all laughs though. Many other interesting issues are discussed. For example humanity’s fixation on beauty and film. There is also some discussion about actors that get stuck in type-casting and the effect that has on their morale. However some of my favorite serious parts were where we learned about a Holocaust survivor named Sarah Rosenthal (who appears to be fictional). I loved the shout out to the Holocaust and hope that somewhere a woman like Sarah Rosenthal really exists. I just think the Holocaust was such a horrible event that I love when books discuss it, it just helps to keep people aware.
Tom is an engaging character. He is an up and coming agent in a super cutthroat industry. Yet, he is still a nice guy. Yes, he manipulates people but he also does try to do the best job he can for them. His willingness and tolerance for taking on an alien race for a client is strangely noble.
The Yherjak is named Joseph and is also a wonderfully engaging character. Joseph is funny, realistic, and constantly optimistic that Tom will find a way to introduce him to humanity. Joseph is also easily bored and some of the things he comes up with to do in his spare time are pretty funny.
Overall this was a highly entertaining read. It’s a creative story and an interesting perspective on humanity as viewed by aliens. The characters are engaging and endearing and the story is hilarious but still has a lot of warmth to it. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Scalzi’s work in the future.