3 out of 4 stars
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The possibility of alien life has fascinated men and women for years. Stewart Faulkner is one such man. Along with his team--Web the Techie, Mindy the new girl, and Lambert the former marine--he is responsible for keeping alien visitors in check...and rounding up the trespassers who visit Earth without the proper registration or motives. "Trespassers" by Todd and Tim Wynn focuses on one particular set of extraterrestrial visitors that turns a routine ship confiscation into a mess and a half for Stewart and his team. The four aliens jump ship to avoid capture and to fulfill their top-secret mission: to find an intergalactic fugitive and protect the secret she keeps.
Said fugitive is Sara Baker, a young women living in Juniper, Indiana who has no idea that she's an alien...or that she's really anyone of significance. With all of her memory erased save the last eight months, she doesn't know that she's the object of a man hunt or that she has information that many foreign (read "interstellar") governments would go to great lengths to collect. As the book progresses, we watch Stewart and his team race against the team of illegal aliens to locate Sara, all while dodging the bumbling presence of a federal alien-hunter named Bruner.
In general, I'm wary of literature that involves aliens. It's challenging to depict them in such a way that they seem realistic and not cheesy. The Authors Wynn accomplished this through their premise that there are five different species of human, only one of which resides on planet Earth. Therefore, the visitors from outer space had all the characteristics of humans--no tentacles or pincers--but they had technology, customs, and languages that distinguished them from Earthlings. With the authors' skillful handling of the alien characters, I was able to dive into this book without getting hung up on the impossibility of crudely depicted visitors from outer space.
"Dive in" is probably less accurate terminology than "sucked in". A swashbuckling alien bounty hunter and his trusty sidekicks tracking illegal aliens through the cornfields of my home state? What's not to love? I'll admit, this book drew me in much like the tracker beam of the spaceship Stewart confiscated.
However, once I read past the exposition, I found myself slogging through a slew of background information while the story came grinding to a halt. It felt as though the authors were explaining their book idea to me in detailed paragraphs rather than letting the story unfold through the actions and dialogue of the characters. In a couple of cases, I ran into two paragraphs of back story that were only necessary to explain the following two sentences of dialogue, neither of which were crucial to the storyline. At that point, I almost stopped reading.
I'm glad I didn't. My complaints about the sparse dialogue, the lack of character development, and the agonizingly slow pacing dissipated about halfway through the book. The action picked up, and the characters came to life as their interactions revealed bits of their past. As I continued reading, I realized their speckled pasts would have an impact on the resolution of the book, and by the end, I thought I had the story all tied up in a nice little bow. Just when that thought crossed my mind, though, the authors blind-sided me with a surprise element that made the ending so much better than I expected.
Technically speaking, this book is extremely well-written. I don't recall seeing one grammatical or punctuation error, a fact that makes this book stand out above many other books I've read recently. And though "Trespassers" is clearly a science fiction novel--that kind of goes without saying when there are aliens present--the authors included notes of realism that made me think some of what they wrote could actually happen today.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. Though the pacing slowed down considerably in the first half, the second half more than made up the difference in the way the characters and their pasts connected through emotionally- and physically-charged scenes. For that reason, I give "Trespassers" by Todd and Tim Wynn 3 out of 4 stars.
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