In 1928 South Dakota, a furry, foxlike woman tells Doctor Elbert Harrison an extraordinary secret — Sasquatch are from outer space. Their aim is commerce. They’re not here to make trouble.
An elderly veteran of the American Civil War, Elbert expected soon to meet his Creator — only to find out the furry folk have a cure for aging. Emigration to the planet Jivada promises renewed life, an unforeseen windfall of family.
Regrettably, the Anye colony world has problems. When Elbert lends his voice to political debate, an opposing faction replies with violence. If he keeps sticking his head up, it’s liable to get knocked off.
It won’t matter. Elbert’s not the kind of man to run from a fight.
The beginning of this book lulls you into thinking that this will be a straight forward story about Elbert learning about the existence of aliens, and coming to terms with what that means for humanity, but it turns out to be so much more than that. As I read the first few chapters, that’s what I thought the story would be about, a story we’ve all seen/read before, but that’s resolved quite quickly and Elbert takes the news in stride, before moving to Jivada and starting the de-aging process. One of the books biggest strengths is the way that John G. Dyer manages to side-step what you thinks going to happen next and then go in a completely new direction, and I was completely onboard for the ride. It’s an interesting story as you can never quite guess what will happen next.
There are some fantastic characters throughout the book, that are all varied and you get to see them grow and change throughout the plot. Elbert is a great character, who feels very authentic and real, a really trustworthy person who is surrounded by a family of equally likable characters. The books starts really strongly with some interesting character and family dynamics that got me hooked way before the main plot took hold. I think the best books are like that, and that’s definitely the case with Elbert that I was just interested to see what happens next to Elbert and his family. I won’t spoil anything, but there’s a few twists, especially early on that had me glued.
Elbert has a bit of everything in it. It’s filled with family drama, romance, a little bit of action, and politics. Whatever you’re looking for is here and it blends together really well. I must admit that it was the main characters, more than the alien world, that I was more interested in, but everything keeps at a quick pace.
Every chapter in Elbert is very short, with some only being a paragraph or two, and the longest only being a handful of pages. I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, there were moments where I kept reading because the next chapter was under a page long and that kept me going longer than I’d planned, but on the other hand it does make the story feel a little choppy in places and because of that I did find it hard to read in long sessions, and bits were had to absorb if I carried on reading. Normally, I’ll easily read a book very quickly, but with this one I ended up reading in short bursts every few days.
For the most part I did enjoy Elbert, the story ran at a very fast pace, there are a bunch of great characters to get invested in, and it’s very easy to read. The biggest downfall was simply that I struggled reading for long periods, mainly due to how short each chapter was, and that meant it took me a lot longer than normal to finish reading. It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes from here.
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