Cuquita by Thomas Matthew caught my attention because the summary sounded intriguing, that it was about a visitor from another planet being looked at as a visitor from another country. The book does actually maintain that point-of-view reasonably well in the beginning, with a lot of attention focused on Cuquita learning how to blend in with humans and keep her true origin a secret.
Unfortunately, a decent premise was hindered by the author’s preference to tell rather than show, with frequent intervals of lengthy text that spell out exactly how a particular person feels, without giving any actual examples or letting the character show those feelings through action. The first few pages of the book deal with Wilson explaining how he met his wife and how much he loves her, and that’s basically how it’s put on the page, with absolutely no emotion at all attached to the words. This is a handicap that exists through the whole book, making it almost impossible to feel any connection with the characters because they don’t seem to have any connection with each other.
Long before the book ends, the author seems to lose interest in the “stranded alien” angle of the story and gets a couple of the characters involved with organized crime. There seems to be little connection with the story of Cuquita at first but she is eventually drawn into the same circle as the crime boss, Big D, and decides to eradicate crime.
This part of the story is as devoid of excitement as the family part is of emotion. Any possible believability is destroyed by the bad guys frequently referring to the “powdered stuff” they sell. Eventually, the author actually uses the word “cocaine,” but by then, it seems like he is too embarrassed with the subject to give it any real weight in the story.
There is also a part where someone uses a “cellphone-like device,” which really bugged me. That term would be fine if the alien used it but I myself, and nobody I know, would ever say I was going to make a call on my cellphone-like device, and I would never think of my cellphone in those terms. There are way too many awkward phrases throughout the book that constantly knock the reader out of the story, which is already hard enough to get into.
The ending of Cuquita could have been handled much better, in my opinion; but that could simply be because of the lack of emotional attachment. I had no feelings invested in these characters so the final scenes held no emotion for me.
(Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views)