Karen Keyte's Reviews > What Came from the Stars

What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt
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Sep 01, 12

bookshelves: middle-grade, tween, tween-boys
Read from August 20 to September 01, 2012

On a world endless galaxies away, the peaceful realm of the Valorim and the Ethelim is under attack, falling to the great betrayer, Lord Mondus. Backed by the Faceless O'Mondim and surrounded by the Faithless, Mondus is in the last stages of his coup - the destruction of the gentle Valorim and all they hold dear. It is in these last desperate moments that Young Waeglim, Master of the Forge, fashions the Art of the Valorim into a single chain and sends it out into the universe, thereby preventing it's capture and misuse by the evil conqueror. Once the chain leaves the ravaged world behind, it flies past stars and great empty spaces until it comes to a smallish, wheeling galaxy and, circling a star on the edge of that galaxy, a blue planet. There, on that planet, the chain comes to rest, slipping quietly into the Ace Robotroid Adventure lunch box owned and despised by twelve-year-old Tommy Pepper.

If Tommy doesn't notice the chain right away, well, he has his reasons. For one thing, its his birthday, the first he has celebrated since his mother died two hundred and fifty-seven days ago in a car accident Tommy is pretty sure he caused. Now his little sister no longer speaks, his father is sad and distracted and a local real estate agency is trying to take away the Peppers' home.

It might have taken Tommy a while to notice the chain, but even with everything that is going on in his life it would be hard for him to miss the frightening and alien minions of Lord Mondus who are intent on claiming the chain and the Art for their overlord. Soon Tommy will have to defend his home, family and friends from a danger he doesn't fully understand using a power he doesn't know he has.

Only the brilliant Gary D. Schmidt could have written this book. Essentially, What Came From the Stars is comprised of three intertwined plots: the story of the Pepper family and their struggle to come to terms with the terrible tragedy that has befallen them; the tale of the Valorim's fall & the rise of the Ethelim (told in alternating chapters); and the narrative that brings those two plot lines together - how Tommy Pepper found the Art and defended it from those who would use it for evil. Like all of Schmidt's novels, What Came From the Stars is beautifully written, honest and faithful to the lives and emotions of its young characters.. Schmidt does an especially good job with Tommy Pepper, whose grief and guilt are both wholly believable. This novel is sometimes poignant and sometimes outright funny, but always compulsively readable.

I do have one reservation about this book - just a small one. The alternating chapters dealing with the struggles on the Valorim Home World are intricate and often complex and are filled with an alien language (a glossary is provided). Impatient readers and those that struggle with high fantasy might find these sections to be a bit of a chore. Still, everyone else should love What Came From the Stars.

P.S. If you've never read Gary D. Schmidt before, you don't know what you're missing. I recommend The Wednesday Wars, Okay For Now and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.
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