Eifelheim, by Michael Flynn (not to be confused with retired United States Army Lieutenant General and convicted felon Michael Flynn)
On the surface, this would seem like a book that’s right up my alley. An alien ship crash-lands in 14th century rural Germany, while in the current-day 21st century a new kind of multi-dimensional physics is discovered. Ooooh, fun!
Except the book seems to get everything wrong.
The 21st century discoverer of the new physics is dating a 21st century student of ancient civilizations who is studying, of course, the 14th century community where the aliens crash landed. Although these two are dating, they don’t seem to like each other very much. This is probably because neither of them is very likeable. She doesn’t know why he keeps talking to her in German (actually, neither do I) and he doesn’t know why she isn’t more excited about his ancient German village. Therapy would not be wasted on these two.
We also spend WAAAYYYYYY too much time learning about the minutia of life styles and religious rituals of 1348. I admit to skimming through a lot of this detail because !!ugh!! and also, I wanted to get back to 2009 to see what was up even though I didn’t really like the 2009 characters. By contrast, the modern story raced along and was very light on details (in hindsight, this was probably for the best).
A key element of what sparked interest in the study of the ancient village was a gap in an expected evolutionary pattern of modern day village settlements. Interesting! This sounds like a super-fun idea! Was it because the ancient site was cursed by an invasion of stranded aliens? Did the area somehow get flagged as taboo? Did an evil tiki idol place a curse anyone who tried to settle there? The most interesting question raised at the beginning of the book is actually never answered! Disappointing! Unless, of course, I skimmed over that part…..
Just a final note. I borrowed this from a friend of mine – we’ll call him John Waterunder – and I dread him asking me how I liked it. Just another reason not to borrow beloved books from friends!!
Rating: skip it (although “John” would tell you to buy it immediately and read it multiple times)