Back at the beginning of 2019, when the world was a different place, I reviewed the quirky SFF novel, Our Child of the Stars. Now author Stephen Cox is back with a sequel, Our Child of Two Worlds. If you haven’t read the first novel, then don’t continue reading this review, as there will inevitably be spoilers. Definitely consider checking out the first book. If ever there was a book written with GeekParents in mind, it’s Our Child of the Stars.
What Is Our Child of Two Worlds?
The first book was an offering unlike anything I had read before. It was science fiction, yes, but it didn’t concern itself with spaceships and far-flung planets; the action all occurred much closer to home. It was a story about family love, loyalty, and small-town sensibilities.
As we begin Our Child of Two Worlds, all is comparatively quiet in the Myers household. Life with Cory ticks along with minimal intervention from the outside, albeit with the media camped outside the perimeter of the Myers enclave. Life is never completely peaceful when you’re a family containing the world’s only resident alien.
The Myers’ peace is shattered – first by a run-of-the-mill domestic trauma. Molly’s sister turns up with her children, having left her husband. She is an abused wife, and he is a bully who will stop at nothing to have his wife and children returned to him. This is not good for the fragile ecosystem that is the Myers household.
Against this backdrop, Cory is convinced his alien family will come looking for him. Molly and Gene disagree about what this will mean for their family unit. Molly is convinced they will want to take him back. How can she let that happen? How can she not?
Meanwhile, events occur in a 1970s geopolitical landscape similar to our own, yet changed immeasurably by the events of the first novel. When evidence starts to mount that the “Snakes,” the killers of Cory’s birth mother, are skulking about the Solar System, a chain of events begins that sends the Myers and Cory on the run.
Once again, Stephen Cox has created a novel that strikes at the heart of family. The novel, I think, can be seen as an examination of how complicated family interactions can be. How infuriating blood relatives are. How difficult marriage can be even when both people are on the same page, wanting the same things. How hard it is when what is best for your child most definitely isn’t best for you. Throw in some aliens and the threat of the extinction of the Earth and those themes are stretched to their limits.
Why Read Our Child of Two Worlds?
One of the things I love about the two novels is the way Stephen Cox weaves pop-culture references into them. In the first novel, the references are largely recognizable as real-world, but in this second book, the passage of time means that classic cultural lodestones have shifted. Yes, famous writers are writing famous books and famous singers are singing famous songs, but now they’re about Cory and the arrival of aliens. It’s a small thing but it contributes greatly to grounding the novel in the real world, even though it’s a work of speculative fiction.
Cox also prods at what it means to be family. Is it the siblings you grew up with, the person you married, or your children? Is it the people who brought you up, or is it your friends, the people you choose to spend your time with? What happens when the person you love becomes your tormentor? The landscape of family is ever-changing with loyalties and emotions shifting all the time. Cox captures this turmoil perfectly.
Add into this some social commentary on the importance of accepting those who are different from us, the dangers of bigotry, and an over-reliance on unreliable media sources, and you end up with a wonderful conclusion to a very special duology of novels.
I say “duology,” but is this the end? I feel like it is, but we are in the author’s hands. This story arc is perhaps complete, but the two worlds Cox has created and the children that live within them could still form countless tales. Tales I’d be more than happy to read.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Our Child of Two Worlds you can do so here, in the US, and here, in the UK.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in order to write my review.