Alien Nation (Alien book 14) by Gini Koch (book review)

February 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

‘Alien Nation’ is the fourteenth novel in the ‘Alien’ series which currently numbers 15 books. I have not read any of the previous books, so it was a good test to see if the books can be read out of sequence or do you have to read them in order. In fact, this book posed quite a few tests for me but more of that later.

The story of ‘Alien Nation’ is written in the first-person perspective of Catherine ‘Kitty’ Katt, although now she has married her surname has changed to Katt-Martini. Her husband Jeff also happens to be President of the United States, although he was born on Alpha Four of the Alpha Centauri system. Jeff is also an empath and can feel other people’s emotions. It seems people from Alpha Centauri can have a range of specialist abilities us poor humans don’t have. These include empathy, hyperspeed and other more subtle abilities.

With regards to the plot, it’s fairly simple and set in what appears to be current times. There’s a bunch of alien spacecraft heading towards Earth where they hope to seek refuge from the other monstrous aliens who are chasing them. This is against a background of anti-alien feelings amongst a lot of human people here on Earth. In fact, there’s an old human enemy of Kitty that has resurfaced and is trying to kill her, Jeff and as many of the Alpha Centauris as possible. It’s up to Kitty and Jeff to deal with the refugees, the invasion and the human criminal masterminds. Well, to be honest its Kitty’s job as Jeff doesn’t really do much once the action starts.

Being married to the President makes Kitty FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) which comes with its own special power. Whenever Kitty raises her hand or paw as Kitty calls it, everybody around her stops speaking. This gets used more than you might imagine but is the only feline reference to Kitty Katt. Also in a previous book, Kitty has acquired some of the Alpha Centauris’ abilities with hyperspeed being the most obvious.

I should also mention that there is quite a large cast of characters. By the end of Chapter 5, we have been introduced to thirty-eight of them. We also get to know if they are related or married to any of the others. It does get a bit hard to keep track of them and leads me onto my first criticism of the book. The President’s staff has a large contingent made up of family and close friends. For example, the Head of the Presidential Terrorism Control Unit is Kitty’s Mum. There’s lots of other examples I could have used. Ever heard of a term called cronyism or perhaps nepotism?

I’m still in the dark as to how an alien became president of the USA as I thought only US citizens born in the US could become President. I suppose Donald Trump has set a precedent although it may have been covered in an earlier book which, of course, I have not read. While there are lots of references to previous events, they can be somewhat vague. Previous events are grouped under headings such as Mission or Operation . You are not told the details and as you can imagine with this many books in the series there’s an awful lot of missions and operations.

One thing I did struggle with was the writing style. As I said earlier, it’s from Kitty’s first person perspective. Only she has the grammatical skill of a teen-ager. Here’s an example from the opening of Chapter 70: ‘Trotted to my room. Considered things and opened the closet.’ It’s not what I would consider a flowing style so you really must work just to read the thing. In many ways, Kitty reminds me of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’. Both make wisecracks at every opportunity and have very little respect for anyone but their friends and family.

While Buffy could get away with this, Kitty is the First Lady of the United States. She and the President insist on being addressed by their first names. I think the fact that almost nobody has any respect for the office of the President (not the person but the position) sort of undermines the whole scenario. You do also wonder who is running things while the President and the Head of the CIA accompanied by other senior figures are off doing their daredevil action man and women thing. They may be action people and time is running out, but there always seems to be ample time for hugs all round.

Another thing which I found implausible and goes with the lack of respect for the Presidential position is the very public relationship between Kitty and Jeff. They keep calling each other ‘babe’ and having passionate kisses in front of everyone. During one public kiss, Kitty has to stop herself from grinding against Jeff. Really? In front of the senior staff while everyone on earth is threatened with being eaten?

There are also some super-consciousness playing their part. One of them can place helpful things like guns and ammunition in Kitty’s purse at opportune moments. It also communicates with Kitty by manipulating the songs on her phones playlist. Headphones on, Kitty can listen to the tracks while fighting aliens and listening/talking to other people. I’m not sure how this is supposed to work as, personally, I find it hard to talk to people when I have my headphones on and the music is playing.

Coming back to the test about if you can read this book out of sequence, the answer is a definite no. There are too many references to prior events which aren’t full explained in ‘Alien Nation’. However, I’m under no compulsion to go back and start reading the other books as I found the whole concept ridiculous. Clearly, I’m in the minority here as enough people are buying the books to warrant the publishers offering fifteen and counting. Perhaps I need a group hug.

Andy Whitaker

February 2017

(pub: DAW Books/Penguin, 2016 545 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7564-1143-5)

check out website: www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/532364/alien-nation-by-gini-koch/9780756411435

 

Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

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About the Author ()

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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