Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

*Return to Thrae* by Judith Galardi Sahovey - young adult book review


Return to Thrae
by Judith Galardi Sahovey
Young adult 152 pages Authorhouse September 2002 Paperback    

Judith Galardi's novel Return To Thrae is about Laney, a seemingly average thirteen-year-old girl. At the start of the book, her family tells her that she is an alien and will be attending a special school. Readers will be uncertain as to how the family came to this conclusion; the story that they tell has her parents finding Laney as a five-year-old mermaid by a river and shifting into human form when she is carried away from the water. Readers have no idea how they know this makes her an alien; perhaps Judith Galardi forgot to tell them something.

In any case, the family and Laney's friend (perhaps boyfriend - they discuss kissing, but their relationship is only talked about as a friendship) Michael are very accepting of the fact that she is an alien and don't find it at all odd. The parents apparently told their ten-year-old son about it years ago. The eight-year-old daughter was told the day before. Michael has known for an indefinite period of time. David, the eighteen-year-old son, most likely remembers it. It seems odd that Laney's parents told their eight-year-old child and their daughter's friend before the daughter who is actually an alien, but Judith Galardi must have her reasons for writing the story this way. Readers just never find out what they are.

At the "school" Laney attends, scientists do tests on her as she swims, hypnotize her, and other such things. She seems to be having fun, as does everyone else (telepathic children, for example) who attends the institution. However, something unexpected happens. Apparently Laney is to be the savior of her home planet, Thrae. She was sent to Earth to keep her power pure (this is not fully or clearly explained, and that's not uncommon in this novel - many things are left unexplained or explained in a manner that is very confusing) and now they have brought her back to save Thrae from the Garnots, who want to rule the planet for themselves. Can Laney save her people?

Obviously, yes. That's not a spoiler; this novel is very predictable. Anyone would know from the start. The plot is neither well-thought out, original (teenage aliens on earth who must save their home planet...not exactly unique. It reminds me of several middle-grade novels I've read), nor surprising. It is exactly what it seems, from the first page. The only "hidden agendas" in the novel are revealed by the author without any suspicion or mystery from the characters. The characters are very thinly drawn and not at all realistic. Even the main character, Laney, is flat. When the characters do have any sort of feelings or thoughts, these are simply stated by the third-person narrator (in the manner of "(insert name here) was (insert emotion here") and not revealed by any clues or glimpses into the head of the characters, which might make readers more interested.

The language is all overly simple. This may have been an attempt to make the book easier to read, but what it really does is make it boring. It is doubtful that this will hold the attention of readers for very long. Judith Galardi, however, does have the patience and persistence to actually finish a novel, which is something many people, however much they think they have a great idea, do not possess. Perhaps she'll write another novel, one that is better (as practice, they say, does make perfect) than Return To Thrae. In any case, don't spend your time or money on this one.

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Jocelyn Pearce/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (