Aldiss Harlson and his crew of three have crashed landed on Earth, five hundred years after humans abandoned the planet for the stars. They may now be all that is left of their people, but they hope to make a new home on Earth.
Clad in his winter wolf skin, Hari is immediately attracted to the man that now searches the forest. His pack is wary of the new strangers and while Hari would like to learn more, he knows better than to get too close. But when tragedy strikes Aldiss’ fragile team, Hari must risk everything to save the humans. In doing so, he may also be able to save his pack and their precarious future.
The Homecoming was rather a challenging read for a variety of different reasons. It moves quickly and there isn’t much downtime between scenes. Normally I appreciate a quick paced plot, but here the narrative suffers from too little exposition. Primary plot points are glossed over and the characters are never fully developed. The overall plot should have been interesting, but it became quickly apparent that The Homecoming has no sense of identity. It simply has no idea what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s Planet of the Apes and sometimes its Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It’s a werewolf tale and a love story and a science fiction romp and does none of these very well. Combining all of those ideas would be difficult to make work within the context of a novel, but when wedged into a short story the result is a jumbled, predictable mess that fails to either make much sense or to entertain.
Very little about The Homecoming comes off as original. Instead it’s a loose collection of worn out and underdeveloped themes. The areas that do spark interest, such as the fact the wolf pack is human during the summer and shift to wolves during the winter, are never fully explained. We are never given much information about any of the rituals, rites, or aspects of pack life that are suggested to be important. Aldiss and Hari had potential to be intriguing characters, but both are just this side of being stick figures. We know almost nothing about them as individuals and we’re given no relationship development. Instead the author appears to rely on the rather tired idea of fated mating. I’ve seen this concept done well, but here it is given no real life and because the author never really explores anything beyond this, there isn’t much of a spark between the main characters. Everything about Aldiss and Hari’s bond feels very rout and forced rather than meaningful.
One of my biggest issues with Hari and Aldiss’ relationship surrounds the fact they are cousins and that they discover this quite haphazardly and through a wholly unbelievable set of coincidences. That alone would be enough to leave me annoyed, but then this potentially huge issue is barely addressed. There isn’t even a talk about the pros and cons of sleeping with one’s direct cousin. This instance is rather indicative of The Homecoming. Something that should be a fairly significant plot point and could at least generate an honest discussion is glossed over as irrelevant. And it seems as though these pearls of ridiculousness are dropped on every other page and left to lie untouched and without purpose. They never add to the story, such as it is, and only serve to leave the reader with an ever-growing list of implausible plot holes.
The characters that we’re meant to perceive as evil are, like Aldiss and Hari, empty and devoid of life. They read as caricatures rather than fully formed and we’re never told exactly why Hari and his kin dislike them. They fade in and out of the story and like so many other aspects of The Homecoming they fail to find any real firm ground upon which to stand.
I hate it when I come to the end of a book and feel as though I have very little good to say about it. Writing isn’t easy and I recognize that most authors pour their blood, sweat, and tears into everything they produce. But when I can’t find the plot and the characters are so weak as to seem almost non-existent, it is very hard to find the silver lining. The Homecoming struggles at almost every turn and, as a result, I can’t really give this one much of a recommendation.