Friday, 14 October 2011

The Observer by Chris Hackett

Gabriel is an Observer, a member of an ancient race that created Earth and humanity. His task is simple. He observes humans and reports any sign of interference from The Fallen, people of his kind who have broken their most important rule: never interact with humans. But when Gabriel becomes fascinated with a human girl, Alyssa, it isn't long before he justifies breaking the rule himself.

His forbidden association with her doesn't go unnoticed. The Fallen seek to recruit him and The Enforcers, a separate caste of his society who ensure punishment of those who break the rules, force him to hide--all the while trying to combat a centuries-old plot by The Fallen to destroy humanity and claim Earth for themselves.

Spending most of his time on Earth, Gabriel realizes he's acting more like a human than an Observer, and he must make a choice: sever all ties with his people, or lose the woman he loves.

The Observer fascinated me for several reasons. 1, that Gabriel spent his life literally just observing humans—I wondered how that could keep a person interested for so many years, but also knew that was all he knew, all he’d been conditioned to do, so perhaps it wasn’t boring for him. 2, that there was a definite play on angels and demons, which I liked, and also that they weren’t angels and demons but aliens. 3, that the strong slant on global warming was incorporated without ramming it down the reader’s throat.

The Observer is a book that makes you think—about the state of our kind, the state of the planet, and the fact that we may well be being observed by aliens in disguise as humans and we have no bloody idea. People stand and stare sometimes, and now I’m going to be wondering if they’re an alien!

I read this book every night for a week. I had one of those vivid morning dreams just before waking today—the morning after finishing the book—but it was more like a nightmare. There’s nothing in the book that is scary, or written in a scary way anyway, so my nightmare was a bit of a puzzle for me. I think the gentle prods in this book about the state of our world, about the fact aliens could exist, and The Fallen (alien versions of the so-called devils) wanting to take over our planet, must have played on my mind. I won’t recount my dream, but suffice to say it was horrible, and something happened in it that means I will never forget The Observer.

That is testament to Chris Hackett, whose words burrowed in my mind without me even knowing they bothered me, and then whack, I realised they did.

The love story isn’t erotic—and I enjoyed that. I loved watching Gabriel’s innocent attraction to her, him realising more every day that this must be what humans call love. The more they spend time together, the closer they grow. The Observer also tackles how, when you’re with someone you thought you loved a whole lot, someone else can come along who you love more, and you have to make a choice. In our society, at least where I come from anyway, people are aghast when they find out someone has been seeing another when they’re already in a relationship, but The Observer shows how love can creep up on you, and that no matter what society thinks, you have to make that choice despite hurting someone.

The next morning was riddled with loud noises as I unfroze myself from the chamber.

“Did you down that whole margarita?”

“Alcohol? The disinfectant?”

I noticed someone standing still, directly facing me. (Gave me the creeps!)

I wasn’t aware that I was in a field. (Funny.)

Clearly, he had been out of the public eye for a long time. (Funny.)

“…What are you anyway? A vampire or something?”

“I took softball when I was younger,”

“I can’t imagine why.” (Sad.)

An interesting concept. Funny at times because of Gabriel’s misunderstanding about some of the things Alyssa says, The Observer shows how love can make even the staunchest loyalist deflect, and that sometimes we have to break the rules in order to do the right thing for the good of others. A book that gives you much to think about—especially near the end when you find out why The Fallen were doing what they were doing. Another lesson in that although it may appear that a bunch of people are doing something really bad, and they are, it’s for a good reason. Difficult to explain without giving it away.

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