Author: Jason Wallace
Song: Starlight by Muse
Zimbabwe. 1994. A group of schoolchildren see strange lights in the sky… and this day changes 6 young people’s lives forever. Encounters follows their tangled, tortured lives as they struggle to understand what they witnessed. And out of this darkness comes a group of psychologists to verify each of their the spookily similar claims. Because surely it must be a lie? Or maybe everything else is…
Encounters was a haunting take on alien encounters in science fiction. It definitely wasn’t you average sci fi read! It’s also based on true events…
It’s written in what seems to be a popular YA style at the moment where you flick between perspectives (they also do it in ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven, which there is an amazing review of here ). At first it was quite difficult to get into the style – the different perspectives weren’t really written as relatable, and the first viewpoint was quite racist and homophobic. However the finale was amazing, everything came together very cleverly. It reminded me of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.‘
As the book progressed it became more about what causes people’s actions and the thoughts behind everything. There were pretty strong themes of grief and abuse, comparing the thin line between fiction and fact. It was pretty deep really for a book about aliens!
However, I felt like it didn’t fully deliver on the science fiction front – its there in the genre! You don’t have to have green blobs flying around in UFOs to make it sci-fi, but I felt like there wasn’t enough alien action (yes thats a thing now.) It was just a lot of hiding round corners and spooky speculations. But on the other martian antennae, it was really creepy. I loved the mix of technology and African folk tales and there were a lot of unexpected plot twists…
It was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, which is pretty prestigious and everything blah blah blah – but you know if a book is even a runner up for that prize, it’s not going to be bad. And Encounters wasn’t bad! It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but I really enjoyed it. It was clever, creepy and a very original take on sci-fi. I would highly recommend it for fans of The Pheonix Files and I am Number Four.
MATURE CHEESE ONLY!
This book did have some themes of abuse and severe grief. I’d recommend it for people over 12.
Have you read this book? Got any recommendations? (song recommendations also excitedly accepted) Please like and tell me in the comments section!