I love a weird, quirky sci-fi book. There’s just something so inherently fun about weird sci-fi – it often doesn’t take itself very seriously, freeing the author to let their imaginations run wild. It’s usually a lot of fun and I frequently find myself drawn to these kinds of stories – which is exactly why I ended up reading The Intergalactic Interloper. With a summary promising missing cats and two-headed alien turtles, I was immediately on board. And, having finished the book, it was well worth the read. While light on plot, The Intergalactic interloper is packed with fun and weird ideas and is immensely enjoyable. (4.5 out of 5 wands.)
(NOTE: An advanced copy of the book was provided in exchange for a fair review. Additionally, mild spoilers for The Intergalactic Interloper may follow.)
Ollie, a young East Village musician, woke up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed: His cat is missing, he is in trouble with his boss, and his friends all think he has lost his mind. This last one may have something to do with the story he tells them about spying a giant two-headed turtle from outer space on a nearby rooftop. But he swears it’s the truth. Ollie’s bandmate Zara is skeptical, but she still signs on to help him track down his vanished pet. Together they follow a trail of clues that lead them to a bird-watching neighbor, who—spurred on by the ghost of a Civil War colonel—may be out for blood.
Boiled down to basics, The Intergalactic Interloper is about Ollie’s search for his missing cat, Pirate. It is the discovery of Pirate’s disappearance that sets the story in motion and it’s the throughline that the novel follows. But I wouldn’t say it’s the novel’s focus. Instead, the novel spends most of its time tracking how this sizable group of characters react to seeing/knowing about Axzleprova, the previously mentioned two-headed alien turtle. Axzleprova doesn’t factor into the novel’s events all that much, but their influence is felt heavily throughout the story. They’re on Earth to study one of the planet’s dominant species to determine whether or not they qualify for inclusion in the greater galactic community. And, of course, their mission isn’t going well. On top of that, the two heads can’t agree on how best to execute their mission and their scenes read like an extraterrestrial version of The Odd Couple. It’s a lot of fun to read and they’re a very creative alien species to explore – which makes it a shame that we don’t get to spend a lot of time with them. They’re well-explored, but as a lover of interesting aliens, I couldn’t help but want more.
We do spend a lot of time with the rest of the characters, though. Namely – Ollie, Zora, Cassandra, and a few others. Lots of time is spent establishing who they are and what their place in the story is – though much of that doesn’t fully come into focus until the novel’s climax. I’m not normally one to enjoy plot-light stories, but The Intergalactic Interloper’s characters were so captivating that I found myself going along with the book despite the general lack of action. I was interested in how Ollie was going to find his cat and I was interested in the relationships between the characters and I was interested in how all of these different plot threads were going to come together by the book’s end. It felt similar to reading a good mystery; there were all of these seemingly disparate elements and you were just eagerly waiting for them to finally converge. It takes a good writer to balance so many threads and Heras pulls it off with remarkable ease. It’s clear that he spent a lot of time planning this book. Everything feels meticulously laid out, yet there’s an ease to how it all connects. The novel is paced very well, with information coming at exactly the right moment. All of the characters feel unique and fully-rounded and I found them all immediately captivating.
On the whole, nearly everything about The Intergalactic Interloper worked for me. I was hooked from page one and my attention was held until the novel ended. The whole thing is just a lot of fun. If I had one complaint, though, it’s that the book is a bit too short. There are so many different characters that it’s hard to feel like you’ve spent enough time with them to fully appreciate them in the novel’s short page-count. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – there’s something to be said about respecting the length one’s story wants to be – but I couldn’t help wishing that I could spend more time with these characters in this world. Some of them appear for only a few chapters and it would’ve been nice to spend more time with them to fully appreciate the work Heras put into ensuring they felt and sounded unique. But, honestly, it’s a pretty minor problem and didn’t hamper my enjoyment much.
At the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed The Intergalactic Interloper. It’s a quick read, but an entertaining one. Heras populates the novel with some well-rounded characters, a lot of humor, and some weird sci-fi ideas. Heras’ prose is easy to get into and easy to read and you’ll quickly find yourself transported into the world he’s created. The Intergalactic Interloper is one of those stories you’ll have a lot of fun engrossing yourself into. There’s nothing particularly challenging about it, but it’s so creative that it’s easy to get lost in it. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes weird sci-fi or solid, character-driven stories. It’s a good read.
4.5 out of 5 wands.