Along the United States’ southern border, a pregnant, teenage Mexican girl fleeing a murderous criminal crosses paths with an alien life form temporarily stranded on Earth in this sci-fi thriller.
Elena Garcia is a desperate 16-year-old on the run from Chief Ramirez, a crooked, 40-something Mexican cop who raped and impregnated her. If the baby is born and authorities take action against Ramirez, he knows that he’ll become a liability to the narcotics kingpin he serves. Intervening in this situation are two extraordinary visitors, CoWoP and MiLiS, vaguely described, humanoid aliens with elongated heads. The two, a male and a female, are on a long-term orbital mission to monitor Earth, which is considered an undesirable, backwater assignment. A life-support failure aboard their ship forces the aliens to temporarily abandon their physical bodies and send their “essences” into unwary Earth people. While MiLiS is bored inside the body of a Hollywood hedonist, CoWoP goes into Elena, where his presence is mistaken by the girl for “Soldier John,” a folk-saint figure to whose spirit Mexicans appeal for aid and protection. Can this invisible, otherworldly companion give Elena an edge in her seemingly hopeless fight against Ramirez? Sharry (In the Dooryard Bloom’d, 2015, etc.) turns to the sci-fi genre for a tense, terse, action-packed, and timely narrative that crosses space-alien first-contact tropes with a drug-crime nightmare and refugee crisis near the U.S.–Mexican border. Despite some highly sentimental elements, it succeeds more often than not. There’s certainly a lot going on in the story despite the novel’s slim page count. The author grants his aliens personalities, class/caste issues, and slangy battle-of-the-sexes dialogue not unlike earthlings’—a mixed bag that works in some passages better than others. Meanwhile, the vile Ramirez acquires unexpected complexity, and even minor, peripheral figures are surprising. Fortunately, the familiar comparison of outer-space castaways to immigrant newcomers in America is downplayed.
A sometimes-engaging cross between No Country for Old Men and The Twilight Zone.