Book Reviews,  Humor,  Science Fiction,  Speculative Fiction

Book Review: On Earth as It Is on Television

On Earth as It Is on TelevisionOn Earth as It Is on Television by Emily Jane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you set up two television screens side-by-side and simultaneously watch National Lampoon’s Vacation on one and Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the other, while snacking on a pound of crispy bacon and a plate of cupcakes, in a room filled with cats, you might get a hint of what’s careening your way in On Earth as It Is on Television, by Emily Jane.

I’m not giving anything away by saying that we start off with an alien invasion. Well, it’s not exactly an invasion. The aliens arrive, spend some time hanging in the air much in the same way that bricks don’t, and after giving the Earthlings enough time to get whipped into a froth wondering when they are going to do something… they simply leave.

But their visit has changed humanity forever, simply by proving that life beyond our planet exists. Humanity reacts to this revelation in as many different ways as there are people, and that’s far too big a concept to fit into one book. So, in her debut novel, author Emily Jane focuses on three distinct situations.

A bored, rich teenager named Heather (because of course she’s a Heather) watches a hovering spaceship from Malibu, while floating in her parent’s pool. But she’s more annoyed by her family, especially her stepdad, than any flying saucer. She treats the situation with indifference and drunkenness. Eventually, she’s forced out of her complacency, which was a relief as I was just about ready to crawl into the book and give her a swift kick.

Meanwhile, Oliver reacts by simply waking up. That wouldn’t be such a big deal, if he hadn’t been in a coma for the past twenty years. He’s got a lot of catching up to do, and fragments of memories to try to make sense of. His progress is slow but steady. I found him to be a lot more interesting and endearing than Heather. I genuinely liked Oliver and wanted the best for him.

And finally, there’s Blaine. His story is told in frantic bursts. Whenever the book swerves into his situation, you’ll feel a change in the writing. It becomes hyperactive, with a tendency to slip into a stream of consciousness style. This reflects his family life well. He’s got an overachieving, overeating, career-minded, impossibly perfect wife. And they have two kids. The children have been gifted with mindboggling levels of energy, a serious addiction to television, an obsession with the family cat Mr. Meow-Mitts, and the inability to ever stop chattering. Whew. You’ll need a restorative nap after spending time with Blaine’s family.

Over the course of the story, we bounce around between Heather, Oliver, and Blaine’s situations, following each of them on a distinctly unique path. But where are they going? And what’s with all the cats?

My favorite books are the ones that keep me entertained, yet always wondering. I love being pulled along by my curiosity. On my ‘what happens next’ scale of 1 to 10, this book rates an 11. It takes patience to read at first, but try to stick with it. There’s a tipping point where you won’t be able to stop. As cats are my witness, I promise.

On Earth as It Is on Television releases on June 15, 2023 and is available to pre-order at Amazon. My thanks to author Emily Jane, Hyperion Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance digital copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion. This review was initially posted at SciFi.Radio.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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