Nowhere on Earth – Nick Lake – Knopf Books for Young Readers – Published 26 May 2020
16-year-old Emily is on the run. Between her parents and the trouble she’s recently gotten into at school, she has more than enough reason to get away. But when she finds a little boy named Aidan wandering in the woods, she knows she needs to help him find his way home. But getting home is no easy matter, especially with Emily finds out that Aidan isn’t even from Earth. When their plane crashes into the side of a snowy mountain, it’s up to Emily to ensure Aidan and their pilot, Bob, make it off the mountain alive. Pursued by government forces who want to capture Aidan, the unlikely team of three trek across the freezing landscape, learning more about each other, and about life, than they ever thought possible.
Nowhere on Earth is one part sci-fi, one part adventure story. I really enjoyed this story of survival – both against the elements and against the bad guys. Rugged terrain and the beauty of an icy Alaska backdrop brings a sense of harshness and danger to the story, while the mystery of Emily’s past and who and what exactly Aidan is, draws the reader in.
Emily is on a mission to save her brother. They have snuck aboard a plane heading from nowhere Alaska to Anchorage. Emily has been wanting to escape since her parents dragged her to Alaska and away from her friends and ballet, wanting also to escape the trouble she is in at school. But when the plane crashes, she, Aidan and the pilot must depend on each other to survive. Emily will do anything to protect Aidan, even if it means fighting off the men who come after them. Because Aidan isn’t from Earth and they want to prevent him from being able to go home.
It’s funny, the fact that there are aliens, spaceships and ‘people’ from another planet is almost a side story in this book, one that isn’t overly explored. Details of how or why or what aren’t explored. If you want to know everything about the aliens, where they come from, what they want, how their technology works or where they live, you won’t find it in this book. Emily readily accepts that Aidan is from another planet, though his spaceship is kind of hard to dispute.
We join Aidan and Emily after the plane crash, so her finding him and his spaceship, him joining her family, and their decision to flee is all filled in as backstory. It works, as it places the focus of the story on Emily and Aidan’s survival as they navigate the plane wreckage, trying to make the journey on foot and out running the bad guys.
Emily is awesome. She is a dancer, but as her parents’ daughter she can shoot, hunt and hike. And she’s not afraid to stand up for herself. She’s the perfect character to survive a plane crash in the middle of the snowy wilderness. As we learn about what happened to cause the trouble at school it becomes clearer show strong she is. Then she takes out the bad guys and gets Aidan, Bob the pilot and herself down the mountain on the plane wing!! She is clever, strong and doesn’t back down from a fight.
Nowhere on Earth was and yet wasn’t what I was expecting. The story of adventure and survival ticked all the boxes for me and I loved the strength of Emily. The bits about aliens and Aidan were curveballs I wasn’t sure what to do with. It works for the flow of the story, so long as you are okay with not learning more. And I think the details we do receive make the story of Emily’s past, her relationship with her family and facing her demons that much more important.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction
Themes: Aliens, survival, family, ballet, Alaska, hunting.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Violence, References to guns, injury, blood, death, shooting, hunting, animal deaths. References to sexual harassment. Occasional course language, f*** (1), sh** (14), pi** (1), as***** (1)
Published: 26 May 2020 by Knopf Books for young readers.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 252 pages.