What Came from the Stars seems like a bit of a departure from form. For one thing, it's science fiction.
a faraway planet, the last brave heroes of a doomed race are besieged.
While the Valorim warriors hold the door against the O'Mondim invaders,
Young Waeglim forges the Art of the Valorim into a chain and, with the
last of his strength, sends it out among the stars, far away from the
scene of the battle, to a little blue planet in a distant galaxy. The
chain falls from the stars into the atmosphere, and from there into the
Ace Robotroid lunchbox of twelve-year-old Tommy Pepper. When Tommy
Pepper picks the chain up and puts it on, he develops certain unexpected
artistic skills. Also, it transforms the supremely embarrassing Ace
Robotroid lunchbox into something cool and spacey-looking. Tommy has
worse problems than an embarrassing lunchbox, though: his mother has
recently died, his younger sister is not talking to anyone any more, and
his father is locked in a battle with developers who want the seaside
land where the Pepper family's house sits. Their troubles increase when
strange, unseasonable storms start ravaging the area, and houses in the
town are vandalized in strange and disturbing ways. Tommy alone seems to
realize that the storms and vandalism are because of the O'Mondim, who
have come to Earth to reclaim the Art of the Valorim. Can Tommy stand
firm against the invaders and do what is best for both his planet, and
the other planet so far away whose fate is now inextricably linked with
The main problem with this book is the first six pages.
Schmidt opens the story with a detailed description of that last
desperate siege. In a visual medium, it would be gripping.
Unfortunately, in text, it is pretty much incomprehensible.
Appropriately, Schmidt has created an entirely new language for the
alien race -- but when you are reading a block of text that is rendered
in an epic style, with every third or fourth word a made-up one, it is
pretty tough going. Once the story shifts to Earth, it's a lot more
engaging. I'm just concerned that the average kid, upon picking up this
book and looking at that impenetrable block of text, will put the book
down and move on to something more accessible. I know I nearly did!
you get past that first chapter, the going gets easier. Tommy and his
father are engaging characters, and though Tommy's school friends are
sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another, his teacher is
brilliant and fun. Making Tommy's sister silent due to grief is an
interesting decision, but one that I know I've seen in other books,
which lessens the impact. The story moves along, trying to tie in the
Cardiff Giant hoax with the alien races, which didn't quite work for me.
So, while I liked the book, I wouldn't say that it's one of Schmidt's
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)