Last week I took my son to see the movie “Escape from Planet Earth.” (It was totally cute in case you were wondering.) As we were walking to the car, struggling to balance 3 half full cups of sprite and the largest (half-empty) bucket of overly-buttered popcorn known to man, he asked me the question of all questions.
“Mom do you think aliens exists?”
Him being eight and me being well…old…I didn’t think my answer would spawn the reaction that it did.
Me: “Yes, I believe in aliens.”
Frick: “You have got to be kidding me! You really think there are little green/orange/purple men running around on another planet planting gardens and plotting to take over the world?” *gapes at me in horror*
Me: *gapes at HIM in horror* No, I don’t think little green men are planting gardens and plotting our demise. But I do think there are aliens. And..since I’m older and wiser than you…the probability of me being right and you being wronger than wrong – which is pretty freaking wrong, just FYI – is pretty dang high.” (*puts hands on hips to indicate that the discussion is over.*)
Frick: “Wow, I thought you were the smart one.”
Me: “Ok, #1…I should totally ground you for that. #2. Let me tell you a little something that I tell your Uncle Dustin every-time he throws his “fake lunar landing” nonsense in my face. It would be naive of us, as a race, to think there is no life anywhere else in that vast thing we call space. Hell, we are still finding new species of bugs everyday on Earth. There are probably hundreds of planets/galaxies that we have yet to even discover. And you think I’m dumb because I think there is a chance that one of those planets may have life on it?”
Frick: “I have no idea what you just said. I’m only in the 3rd grade.”
Me: “Guess I still am the smart one then huh?”
What does any of this have to do with Amberly Wynn’s novel “Naked As We Came.” I’ll give you two guesses as to who found that mysterious planet I was referring to.
It has been a REALLY long time since I have had the pleasure of reading a Sci-fi novel. Novels that take place in space and throw around words like “frozen human cargo” and “computerized stability” sure…I’ve read those. But a novel that gets down and dirty (hmm..that sounds much more sexual than I intended) with the confirmation of extraterrestrial existences and their threat to the human race by way of blatant extinction techniques? No. Which is why (despite the butt load of editing errors) I absolutely LOVED “Naked As We Came.”
Pride aside and honesty first…I went into this novel thinking it was going to be another trumped-up YA take on what will happen when we finally destroy Earth and are forced to flee the planet. What I got? I novel about surviving what can only be described as the “alien version” of Auschwitz complete with extreme weather and mass executions.
And before you think I am totally insane for liking a book were humans are being dropped left and right for something as simple as making eye contact with their captors, let me explain why I was totally enthralled from page 1.
I want you to take a second and ponder this question: If you were taken hostage. Forced to work for a group of people who basically think you are expendable. And told that if you didn’t comply with every rule they have set out for you you will be ground-up into puppy chow and served as Monday morning’s breakfast jello, would you? Or…would you fight like hell to find an alternative. Plot your escape. Refuse to be referred to as a number. “Rage rage against the dying of the light” as Dylan Thomas would say.
Me? I hope I would have the lady balls enough to take a stand. Even if it cost my life at least I would go down fighting.
That is the mindset that Cassidy (the protagonist) has in “Naked As We Came” and this is the reason this book was so dang interesting.
Cassidy is hard. She has had a hard existence and it shows in all of her actions, from her stubbornness, to her fierceness in protecting her family. But that is not EVERYTHING she is, and it takes the most extreme circumstances for anyone to take notice of it.
Here is a good example:
The unexpected twist however, comes when her need to prove she’s “a free woman” (and I say “woman” because she does NOT read like a 16 year old girl) unlocks compassion in one of her captors. A captor that continually shoulders the responsibility for her rebellious behavior.
Even though the plot is torturous, and the treatment of humans in a non-human environment is almost sickening. It’s the evolution of the characters who battle this captive system that make the book into a beacon of hope instead of despair. You can feel the moment when everything shifts. Where those that WERE hopeless, simply happy to be alive (even if they were treated like cattle) regain that twinkle in their eye. Stand up a little straighter. Walk a little prouder.
The action (that ramps up the closer you get to the end of the book) and the amazing world building by Wynn simply added to the overall pleasure I felt while reading this book.
If you can overlook a few missing words and some editing errors (that I hope to God have been corrected in the final version of this novel – mine was an ARC) I highly encourage you to snag a copy for yourself.
It has a little bit of everything for everyone and ended spectacularly.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: You are what you eat. Literally.