Adil Raif grew up in a time when space exploration was possible. Thanks to the arrival and first contact with the people of Yalaphor, Adil’s vision of visiting the stars comes true. He ends up working as a doctor on a space station, providing care to refugees from Yalaphor. It’s not exactly the culmination of his boyhood dreams, but it brings him face to face with Esihle Queran.
Eshile was a once a servant of the royal family on Yalaphor, but circumstance forced him to become an agent and assassin. He hates what he’s become and when the chance presents itself, he sneaks away from Yalaphor posing as a refugee. He and Adil are immediately attracted to one another, but what starts as a convenient physical relationship evolves into a love affair. Both men have their secrets and are scarred by life, but together they’ll find a way to forge a new kind of happiness.
Alien Hands is one of those books that starts off as one thing and ends up feeling like something completely different and tends to be jumbled as a result. It focuses on the love affair between the human, Adil, and an alien refugee, Eshile. There is a significant amount of world building in Alien Hands and while not everything is fully rendered, there is enough for believability. I think this is one of the book’s strongest aspects and probably the part I enjoyed the most.
Adil and Eshile are fairly developed and their backstories are solid. I’m not sure I really ever connected with either one of them, though. I don’t necessarily blame the book for that. The issue could have been mine alone and I’m still not quite sure why I was so disenchanted with them. The characters just didn’t resonate with me and I found it hard to engage with the evolution of their relationship. They felt a bit flat and lacking in emotional depth, but again I’m willing to believe I’m I going into be in the minority on this.
My two biggest issues with Alien Hands stem from the excessive amount of sex and how uneven the plot seemed. There is sex in nearly every chapter of this book and sometimes it seems the only thing propelling the story forward. I appreciated that sex was a mechanism for communication between Eshile and Adil, but the sheer dependency upon this as a plot device became boring fairly early on. There was a repetitiveness to it that slowed the pacing of the book. Additionally, the overall story feels jagged. Things happen off page and we’re often dumped into the action either after it has happened or on the outskirts of it. So there’s no smooth transitioning from chapter to chapter and the events on page took on a rote and mechanical tone.
Overall, I wanted to like Alien Hands more than I did. The world building is solid and while the characters didn’t resonate with me, I think a lot of readers will enjoy them. But I felt the plot was overly bogged down by sex that quickly turned boring. And the story needed a lot of smoothing out and pacing adjustments. If you’re fan of science fiction, you may like Alien Hands. It just didn’t work much for me.