“Heaven and Earth” by Arturo Riojas – Book Review
Heaven and Earth by Arturo Riojas is a rather interesting addition to the existing debate over the environment and future of our species. The book is set in a futuristic world where cadmium poisoning has become a formidable issue and threat to the future of an alien species. The story follows a Californian researcher at NASA, Olga Ramos. She and her friend Gavilan are approached by an alien named Nivia who claims that his planet Trerertum is in danger. The population of the planet has been invaded by muimdac (cadmium spelled backward) Judaism is a virus species that has been feeding on the aliens. Desperate, Nivia and his friends have turned to Earthlings for help. The humans and aliens ultimately team up to eradicate the poison that is killing them.
The plot overall was decent. I enjoyed the twists and the storyline, but there were a few weak points. The story followed a very interesting path and did have enough twists and shocks to keep the audience interested. Riojas did an excellent job of explaining fairly complex scientific concepts to an audience without any knowledge of science. The majority of people are likely unaware of the dangers of cadmium and cadmium poisoning. Riojas explained this issue in depth and in a fictional end of world scenario to make it more interesting. Every chapter included a page or two of facts about cadmium and cadmium poisoning. Some of the facts are about how cadmium manifests in the environment and the uses of it. Later, many of the facts concern the effects of cadmium. Riojas wrote about ways to treat the effects of cadmium and studies about it. The book itself is more simple, but many of these bonus sections of facts are very in-depth and could be confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the topic.
The characterization was good. The characters were very well developed, especially the non-human characters. Characterization of non-humans can be incredibly difficult, but Riojas did an excellent job in this area.
The overall concepts of the book were very interesting. Despite the fact that cadmium receives very little attention from the government, Riojas makes it clear that cadmium poising is a major issue. Instead of writing a book full of studies, statistics, and facts, Riojas turned a real-world issue into a science fiction book about two different species attempting to work together for their survival.
Overall, the book was fairly decent. The biggest issues I had with the book were the writing and grammar. Riojas would write entire pages in Spanish with English translations thrown into the text, making made some of the book difficult to read. In addition, there were many major issues with grammar throughout the book. Many passages had strange wording. Riojas used italics to indicate the thoughts of characters, but italics were found in random sentences as well. I would give this book a rating of 4.5/10. There were some serious issues with the writing, but the plot and characterization were good. I would give this book an age rating of 10+ due to the complexity of the subject matter.
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