Guest Review: Uncommon Ground & What About Lunch (Aliens in New York #1-1.5) by Kelly Jensen

Dillon Lee’s grandfather was a conspiracy theorist. Every summer he’d take Dillon on a tour of New York City while entertaining him with tales of aliens. Fifteen years later, after a phone call from a lawyer, Dillon is carrying his grandfather’s ashes from landmark to landmark, paying a sort of tribute, and trying to figure out what to do with his unexpected legacy. When someone tries to steal the ashes, a guy Dillon has barely met leaps to the rescue, saving the urn and the day.

Steilang Skovgaard is a reclusive billionaire—and not human. He’s been living in Manhattan for over twenty years, working on a long-term plan to establish a safe haven for his people. For seven years, his reports have gone unanswered, however, and he is the only surviving member of his interstellar team. The connection he forms with Dillon soon after meeting him is something he’s missed, something he craves.

But after someone keeps trying to steal the ashes, it looks as though Dillon’s grandfather was involved in more than theories—and might not have been exactly who everyone thought he was. Steilang doesn’t know how close he can get to the truth without revealing himself, and Dillon is running out of people to trust. Can these two work out what’s going on before the thieves set their sights higher?

Reviewer: Annery

This story exists in Felice Stevens’ Memories Series, which I haven’t read, but as far as I can tell only Josh & Micah, from “Memories of the Heart”, make a cursory appearance. I had no trouble following.

Dillon Lee, tall, purple haired, and pierced would be artist has come to NYC to honor his grandfather’s ashes but he keeps getting foiled. Security won’t allow him up to the Empire State Building Observatory with the urn, and then someone snatches his backpack, with said ashes in them! Luckily Steilang Skovgaard a.k.a. Lang a.k.a. reclusive and mysterious billionaire takes a break from ogling Dillon at the coffee shop, and gives chase. So begins a cute romance between a guy who’s always felt out-of-step with the rest of society, and a guy who literally is an alien. Not from this galaxy alien.

The world building, though spare, was well done. Lang came to Earth 25 years ago, as part of a delegation intent on finding a new home for the clans of his home planet, which is dying in some sort of ice age. Things haven’t gone as planned. Lang has lost touch with his fellow clan members and, though he’s accumulated wealth & property, it isn’t clear who it’s all for or if his clan brethren will ever make it and settle down on Earth. I liked how Kelly Jensen set up the clans from the planet Jord, their roles, and traits. Mostly I liked how KJ portrayed Lang’s sense of existing in a sort of limbo. He’s lost his purpose, which is deeply ingrained in the Jord. Like most immigrants, living in a new place for so long, has changed Lang, humanity has seeped into him in ways small and large: his love of kitchen gadgets from t.v. infomercials, coffee, contained green spaces, like Central Park. In a larger sense he wonders what does his existence mean if his purpose is lost. Lang and Dillon immediately connect on a pretty deep level, and their romance never hinges on a “will they? won’t they?”, but rather on whether Lang can open up to Dillon, and how will Dillon handle his alienness, and other truths.

I liked that, given Lang’s origins, there were no ‘I love you’s’ bandied about. I liked the casual diversity: Dillon is half Korean, and his mother & grandmother are awesome. I liked how despite his outward appearance, Dillon just wants connection, and in a sense that’s what Lang wants too.

Sci-Fi isn’t generally my thing, but I’d recommend this with just the right amount of alien, some romance, some smex, but mostly I enjoyed being in Lang’s head. And Dillon is cute too.

What About Lunch? (Aliens in New York #1.5) 

Dillon takes Lang home for lunch with his mother and grandmother. Lang has an upset tummy and Dillon's thinking odd thoughts about his midsection too. But the food is delicious and Hana and Bora Lee are entertaining company!

This is a cute visit with Lang & Dillon. It’s been about six months since the events in “Uncommon Ground”, and the guys have moved in together. They’re learning who they are as a couple and Lang is trying to navigate the nuances of being a resident of Earth, and maybe becoming more of a full fledged human too. Sweet.

No comments:

Post a Comment