The Silver Spoon by Stacey Klemstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars (8/10)
This is Stacey Klemstein's first novel and it's a great debut. I hope it will be the first of many to come in the years ahead.
Two years ago, Zara Mitchell began having terrible nightmares and has been known since as the local crazy. At the same time, Earth made its first contact with aliens. The Observers had been watching us from a distance for a while and have since landed on Earth, sending out small numbers of research parties. Zara is terrified of the aliens, but fortunately unlikely ever to meet any.
Or so she thinks. As the story opens, she is working in her diner, The Silver Spoon, when the sheriff stops in with his latest captive - one of the Observers. Moments later her world turns upside down when the diner explodes, her life is saved by Caelen, the Observer, and he insists she was the target of the attack. Reluctant, but determined to find answers to the questions in her life, Zara finally agrees to go with Caelen. From there, her life just gets more complicated as every answer raises a host more questions.
Klemstein has placed her characters very neatly on the board and proceeds to play havoc with them with skill, ease and a delightful touch of wit and humour. What impressed me most is the way, as she slowly revealed more about the nature and plans of the Observers, she made them more human at the same time as she showed us how different they were. Zara too finds she is not exactly what she has always believed as she finally discovers the source of her nightmares. She deals with this realistically rather than easily, a fact that made me like her more. She has a wry sense of humour and is strong without being forcefully or unbelievably so.
Caelen is less clearly drawn, partly because we never see his thought processes (the story is told first-person from Zara's point of view) and because his motives remain cloudy and uncertain. The romance between Zara and Caelen is gentle, cautious and uncertain; while "happy ever after" is definitely a possibility at the end, it is not yet certain.
Many of the questions facing the characters at the start of the book are answered by the end, but some remain and others have been created. This book is crying out for a sequel and I hope Stacey Klemstein is in the process of writing one. I'll be buying it.
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