What I Learned - Star City by Edwin Peng
I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of this book by the lovely people at Smith Publicity and it was one of the best books I have read...to the point that my daughter now has her nose in it as I was raving about it so much!
What I Learned:
Poignant - and definitely something you start thinking about more and more with age, I think especially my generation. It's nice to see the younger generations thinking about these things earlier now too, especially when it comes to the state of our planet and it's natural resources (even with Trump in charge!)
I love this spotlight on this very "human" behaviour that I think if we're honest we are all guilty of, even if it's just in small ways. I think this is a nice wee reminder that regardless of what "groups" people belong to, or a perceived to belong to, everyone is still an individual with their own thoughts and feelings.
So the Saamaa, being a faction of an alien "race", are extremely wise indeed. This made me think of our human Godparents. Some of the wisest advice my daughter receives on a regular basis is from her beloved Auntie Amy...I love how close they are. I guess that's what they are there for too, and being that one step removed makes it so much easier for both sides to say what they are really thinking.
...and this is something else that is, unfortunately, becoming more apparent the older I become. You've just got to make the most of everything that is flung your way and learn to roll with the punches. This in particular is making me a bit emotional at the moment as I've had a wee bit of a tough year this year, and the last few weeks specifically have been hard going. But I just have to keep remembering to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, no matter how hard that feels at times.
There's a cost to every decision we make, if we are really honest about it, but we just have to keep making sure that the progress and things we are achieving keep outweighing the costs, if not then really what is the point?
My Goodreads Review:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amazing book!!! If I could give this 100 stars I would. Completely unique and unputdownable. I read this book in one sitting, I just couldn't tear myself away! What would happen if a superior alien race made contact on earth? How would we react? Written from the dual point of view of 2 teens, one earthling and one alien, this book has a truly authentic feel to it. Not only does it deal with the day to day challenges faced by these 2 teens and their life at uni, it tackles head on issues that are faced when someone "alien" is placed in a new environment and how other people react, both positively and negatively. I found myself thinking about the immigrant and hate issues we are facing in the world today, and I believe this story really touches on these issues in a very human way, although using an extreme example. This book should be on every school curriculum for that very reason.
I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough.
The Press Release
(It is rare for me to include one of these on my blog, but this one is great, and puts it so much better than I ever could!)
Humans, Aliens, and Two Teenagers Who Must Save Them All …
THE FRESH, DYNAMIC, NOT-TO-BE-MISSED SCI-FI DEBUT FROM
YA AUTHOR EDWIN PENG
It isn’t every day you read a debut novel that you know will be just the beginning of a successful career, but with Edwin Peng’s Star City (Evolved Publishing, December 4, 2017), it’s clear from page one that this book is something special. Star City is more than just a world-shaking sci-fi adventure for YA readers, with a dash of romance and a super cool alien race who happens to love blueberries. From Peng’s unique take on human/alien first contact, to his diverse cast of characters, and a protagonist with strong ties to her STEM roots, the book feels lively and well thought out on every level.
Eighteen year old Emma Smith is exactly where she wants to be: she’s headed to the University of Nebraska with a full scholarship to, and on top of that she’s been selected by the U.S. government to participate in an exclusive medical research project. The project, as it turns out, isn’t an average college internship. Emma has been selected as a student ambassador to liaise with the Ba’ren, an alien race that has recently made contact with Earth in order to share medical technology. The project will kick start Emma’s biomedical engineering career, as well as give her a chance to interact with this mysterious alien race that she — and all of humanity — are very curious about.
Unfortunately for Emma, her Ba’ren counterpart, Sepporinen, has very little interest in her or humanity as a whole. He is most excited about the opportunity to explore and mine the asteroids of Earth’s solar system, but is compelled by his government to take part in the research project. As the two work together, they begin to draw closer, and form a friendship—and perhaps more. In the meantime, they discover far more is at stake with their project than what their respective governments have let on. Political and cultural clashes between the humans and the Ba’ren intensify, and Emma and Sepporinen must risk everything to help maintain the fragile peace between their two species.
“My hope is that Star City provides pertinent social commentary and challenges the average YA reader’s preconceptions while still delivering a funny and exciting story,” says Peng. “The most obvious theme of the book is the need for peaceful relations with other cultures. In our increasingly connected world, we must be much more understanding and tolerant of others.”
Star City is the best kind of YA — it encourages readers to enjoy the story, and yet think beyond its pages. Fans of Rick Yancey, Melissa Landers, and Claudia Gray Alexandra Bracken will gravitate toward this series, and will be so glad that they discovered Edwin Peng, a debut author we’ll certainly be hearing more from.
About Edwin Peng:
Edwin Peng is a fiction author whose writing spans genres from young adult and sci-fi to fantasy, romance and more. Born in Monterey Park, CA and raised with a steady diet of In-N-Out Burgers and boba tea, Peng decided early on that he was too cool for high school. Instead, he attended California State University, Los Angeles at the age of 13 through the Early Entrance Program. After a few stints around the country as an engineer, he settled in Nebraska, currently channeling his inner super-villain by performing laser research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Peng has published several scientific journal articles in Applied Physics Letters and Energy & Environmental Science. Star City, the first book of his YA/sci-fi series about blueberry-loving aliens and dirty politics, is his debut novel.
An Interview with Edwin Peng
Question: What inspired you to write Star City?
Edwin Peng: I have always loved YA, so that’s the genre that I always knew I’d write. I really hope that my fandom shines through, but at the same time that my novel is different than what’s currently out there. The other thing that inspired this novel was my experience in the highly competitive Early Entrance Program at California State University, Los Angeles. I was 13 when I went to college, which is a little bit out of the ordinary (to say the least!). Some of the very smart, very driven, and very geeky characters in my novel are loosely based on that experience.
Q: Why did you choose to set the book in Nebraska?
Peng: I moved to Lincoln, NE five years ago. I grew to love this state and its people. One of my favourite books is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. [see my review of Eleanor & Park here] There are enough books – not to mention movies and TV shows – set in New York City or Los Angeles. I believe there should be more novels set in “unpopular” places such as Nebraska.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from the novel?
Peng: My hope is that Star City provides pertinent social commentary and challenges the average YA reader’s preconceptions while still delivering a funny and exciting story. The most obvious theme of the book is the need for peaceful relations with other cultures. In our increasingly connected world—and even more so when today’s YA readers grow up and enter college and/or the workforce--we must be much more understanding and tolerant of others.
Q: Why was it important for you to feature a diverse set of characters in the series?
Peng: Traditional publishing, especially within the young adult genre, has a long history of excluding marginalized groups, both in their fiction and for real life readers and authors. In the rare instance that a young adult novel features minority/lower class/LGBT+ characters, they are often stereotyped and/or whitewashed on the cover or movie adaptation. The Star City series fights for diversity with many, non-stereotypical characters, who readers from marginalized groups can identify with.
Q: When you’re not writing, what do you do?
Peng: I am a postdoc doing materials engineering research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Some of the alien technologies in Star City actually are inspired by the research I’m doing!
Find Edwin Peng online at:
Star City is published by Evolved Publishing. Find them online at:
Thanks again to Emma Boyer at Smith Publicity for sending me this book!
I hope you enjoyed this post and if so, please check out my complete list of What I Learned posts.