When their brother who has been missing for fifteen years suddenly returns, changed, Evie and Kass Shao must cast aside their differences to hide him from the FBI and an entire alien army who are in fast pursuit.
... [a] page-turner ... From this pulse-pounding beginning, the novel settles into a light, earthbound family drama that brushes upon darker themes, without exploring them too deeply at the risk of slowing the book’s rollicking plot ... contains a sometimes uneasy tension between the stakes of planetary survival in a sprawling Star Wars-like conflict and the interpersonal stakes of making a family whole again. This friction makes it hard to take either set of conflicts too seriously and results in unusually broad lines ... When the right balance is struck, however, the consciousness of this space warrior approaches a kind of wisdom that might resonate to those coming to terms with the way our lives have changed since the global pandemic began ... The novel’s third act cleverly uses some alien science to deliver a denouement that is quite moving. Light Years From Home is a fun sci-fi potboiler that stays close to the human heart, even when it’s about aliens in a galaxy far, far away.
Chen has written a heartfelt novel of family dysfunction wrapped in an intergalactic cloak ... Chen’s strength in writing poignant character arcs, especially within family dynamics, shines here, as does his ability to craft intriguing blends of literary and speculative fiction with compelling, character-driven plots.
As always, Chen has written a science fiction novel rooted in a deeply emotional core: the focus is on this family and their tensions and pain, and whether they can find a way to trust one another moving forward. This soft sf story is strongest when digging into the complicated dynamics between big and little sister: Kass and Evie struggle to understand each other and accept the other’s mistakes. It’s a vivid, strong novel that will enchant sf fans who enjoy concentrated, touching stories that narrow in on relationships and emotional consequences.