Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
The Cat Who Fell to Earth is a curious first-contact novel by Nick Korolev. It follows multiple characters from various backgrounds as they respond to the arrival of an incredible alien creature to their planet.
Leading these characters is Crystal, the conscientious, tree-hugging liberal who discovers the crashed UFO and its amazing, furry inhabitant. Serving as her foil is her partner, Dennis, a bigoted Christian conservative. There's also Major Tom Reynolds, a veteran of multiple wars in the Middle East, who must fit the existence of aliens into his combative world view.
The titular “cat” alien in this book is named Kedi. Kedi appears to be a bipedal tiger-like animal, although he is smaller than an adult tiger. He comes equipped with a universal translator which allows him to understand and speak in English, although he often speaks in broken English, distinctly lacking articles.
Kedi is easily the most interesting character and thing about this book. Of course! He's the alien of the book, the one who shakes things up and largely advances the plot.
We quickly learn that Kedi comes in peace. He's an environmental scientist working for an alien organization known as the Confederation of Planets. He has determined that Earth (which his people call “Tellus”) is a dying planet that is en route to destruction, largely due to the environmental havoc and destruction that humans (which his people call “Tellins”) have wrought. He does, however, acknowledge that fluctuations in climate are normal and have happened throughout history.
Kedi is a very cute and compelling character. He's also very considerate about the feelings and beliefs of others, not wanting too step over them. What's a bit special about Kedi is how spectacular he seems to the humans, yet how unspectacular he is to his own people. To his own people, he's just a scientist. He's not a president or a senator or a rich business owner. He's a bit of a commoner just like Crystal and Dennis.
This supports one of the book's key messages that you don't need to be a rich or powerful person to have a voice and to make a difference.
You can be someone like Greta Thunberg and just be loud and obnoxious about how the world is on fire and how it's 395% humanity's fault. So, have less kids, drive less cars, eat less cows, and drink less milk.
This book is largely supposed to be about perspectives, showing us different points of views on different issues, namely climate change, global warming, and immigration.
Unfortunately, it is rather one-sided with an avalanche of support from the left. Conservatives, Republicans, Christians, and religion are constantly on the losing side of this book. They are constantly treated as “dogmatic” fundamentalists with inflexible, intolerant views. This ignores the fact that liberals, Democrats, and atheists likely have just as many issues with being inflexible and intolerant about different things. For example, which group is more apt to cancel people and businesses over perceived wrongs? Do liberals, Democrats, and atheists not have dogmas of their own? Maybe they're dogmatic about climate change or gun control or the absence of a god. Maybe they're dogmatic against people with certain kinds of beliefs, especially when those beliefs don't mesh with theirs.
We're largely centrists, and we can see fault with all of these groups—on the left and the right.
Whataboutisms aren't preferable in arguments, but they are valid when comparing two competing groups of people. You can't punch someone in the face, burn their lawn, spray paint “I Hate Your Kind,” then say that they're terrible people because they're violent and hateful. There's a hypocrisy there.
So, despite this book seemingly promoting healthy dialogue and discussion on issues, the narrator already seems to have their mind made up. It is unfortunate because there was a great opportunity for this story to bridge the gap and reach across the aisle. Instead, the narrative of this book is already set in its ways. The argument is over before it even begins. There is a VERY clear-cut good guy and a very clear-cut bad guy. There's no flex in that at all.
Dennis is despicable. There's little to nothing to like about him. Yes, he smiles and chuckles from time to time, and he is helpful from time to time, but he is portrayed as a pretty terrible and miserable person. Why? Because he has Christian beliefs? Because he is a conservative who is concerned with national security and the growth of the economy?
On the flip side, Crystal is portrayed like an angel. Everything that Crystal says and does is portrayed as benevolent and good. Even her Wiccan... um... faith... is portrayed as admirable and good because it highlights how much she loves the Earth and nature. Good grief. We just reviewed two Wiccan books, and LOVED them, and even we aren't sold by that argument, not when it's presented in conflict with another religion (Christianity) which is portrayed as having less valid and inferior views. So, that's what we're talking about when we talk about dogma and not being a hypocritical. If you're going to attack religions, don't then proceed to prop up a religion. It's antithetical to the apparent point of the book.
The narrative does let up for better or for worse. It ceases being relentlessly preachy, even catching itself being preachy. However, expect that preachiness to return in 2-3 pages.
But we digress. There are a few things to enjoy about this book, particularly the Star Trek-esque sci-fi elements. It did remind us of ET at times. The movie is even referred to a few times.
It's also interesting to see how Kedi's people have many of the same competing points of views and power struggles that the people of Earth have. We also loved the lines “Shall we go and meet the neighbors?” and “Tellus humans unique like we all unique, yet are part of a whole.”
Check it out on Amazon!