Rights of Use by Shannon Eichorn
Review by Samara Wright
In the 1960s, Project Blue Book promised the American public that UFOs were not real. Aliens did not exist. We were safe from extraterrestrial threats.
Thirty years later, two high schoolers, Sarah Anderson and Maggie Rockefeller, along with seventeen other women are abducted in broad daylight and whisked off in Kaxan, flying saucers, to serve as potential host bodies for an alien queen.
Or so it seems, until an undercover “good” alien tries to recruit Sarah to host a fellow Gertewet, and join the war against their body stealing Kemtewet cousins. Even Vinnet knows it’s a dangerous mission; impersonating a queen, taking an Earth host, attempting to kill the Empress.
It’s a Hail Mary, but the Gertewet are dying out without a queen of their own and the Kemtewet change vassals like humans change clothing. With only a few thousand Gertewet remaining against the millions of Kemtewet and time running out, Sarah might be Vinnet’s only chance at completing her mission.
The story starts off slowly, introducing the reader to secret Air Force operations, covert alien wars, and an impressive world that breathes beyond the pages. An extensive supporting cast quickly builds up speed, creating an intersecting web of secret missions, alien and human, all heading straight for collision. We follow various characters throughout the book, always switching before any one plot line can get bogged down in info-dumping and keeping the action moving throughout the last two-thirds of the book.
Sarah, as our protagonist, acts as a perfect foil, introducing me to the aliens and their customs. Back on Earth Andrew Rockefeller, Maggie’s father, fights to get his daughter back, all the while asking, do aliens really exist? Thankfully, that is not a question that Eichorn gets sucked into. She is happy to allow Rockefeller his doubts, until she sticks him into his own UFO and takes him into space. Instead, the plot touches on questions of human rights and consent, a delicate topic, to which every character seems to have a different reaction. It’s refreshing to hear the Kemtewet’s confusion about a vassal’s life before hosting, even as Sarah and Rockefeller are repulsed at the idea of an alien inhabiting a human body.
Eichorn deftly handles multiple personalities occupying one body, with minimal confusion – though there are a few sequences that required a second look. I loved the secondary plot line with Katorin, a non-Earth based character, which hinted at the larger world and the reasons behind the “good vs bad alien” war, but ultimately left me with more questions than answers. The conflict between Colonel Marshall and her uncle, General Marshall, and his symbiant had me asking even more questions, but the planned Earth-based sequel has me hopeful for at least some answers.
All in all, it was an interesting read, setting up a fascinating world, with only a few passages that had my metaphorical feet dragging.
Eichorn has already released a short story set in the world of Black Book focusing on Katorin and her host titles This Alien Sympathy; a prequel of sorts. Rights of Use will be released on the 28th of August.