“Gemja: The Message” by K.M. Messina

“Gemja: The Message” by K.M. Messina 683 1024 Reader Views Kids

Gemja: The Message

K.M. Messina
Lunalore Books (2023)
ISBN: 978-0578839561
Reviewed by Dawn Colclasure for Reader Views (11/2023)

Imagine that aliens come to Earth, create a great relationship with your parents, and invite you to live on their planet. That’s exactly what happened to 17-year-old Resa Stone’s family, and while she is excited about living on another world, she has concerns about the living conditions. Especially since the air is full of a poisonous substance called “toxia.” In the first of a series, the novel “Gemja” by K.M. Messina, introduces readers to this world called Wandelsta, where Resa spends time drawing pictures about it and keeping a journal about living on this planet. She does not interact with the native alien species on this planet much. While they are her tutors, she mostly interacts with other humans living on the planet. There’s especially a strange new arrival who appears mysterious and keeps to himself, and Resa is instantly attracted to him.

One thing that struck me about the main character Resa, is that she has scoliosis. This is the very first time I have come across a character in a book, let alone a main character, with this condition. I do not know that much about it, but I think it’s great that the main character in a novel is one living with this condition. Scoliosis is not a HUGE thing throughout the story; the character only mentions it when something is affecting it. And while she carries herself well, never expecting sympathy or preferential treatment, she is hurt when another character teases her about it.

Even so, the character Resa is remarkable. She’s strong, and level-headed (even for someone who is Wiccan) and she can take care of herself. At the beginning of the story, she and her younger brother, Dakota, bicker a lot, but then they end up bonding later in the story. And even when Dakota messes up, she is the responsible big sister looking out for him.

While Resa is pretty much the “star” of the story, her brother, Dakota, plays some roles in the story too. I really like how Dakota matures in the story. He grows and evolves during the story and I wish we could have seen more of him in the middle of the book! He is such an interesting character and I love the song he wrote! I could imagine how it impacted Resa and I love how it plays such a big role for her later in the novel.

As to the tale itself, I honestly thought it was a fantasy story. It’s actually a combination of fantasy and science fiction. All good, though! I do enjoy reading both genres. There is also a bit of romance, as Resa eventually finds love.

The thing about the stone is very interesting. I love how it plays such a major role in the story. Resa has very understanding parents, but I think they should have been more upfront with her about the planet they had to live on from the very beginning.

While the family is living on Wandelsta, Resa has dreams of someone named Nitika who gives her strange messages, one of them being “You are the one.” In some ways, Resa fears these dreams and is scared of Nitika, even though, based on how she is described, Nitika does not appear threatening. Even so, Resa performs a spell to banish Nitika from her dreams. In this particular instance, I felt the spell was written well. (Resa learned Wicca from her grandmother.) I don’t know if it’s based on an actual spell, but if not, I thought the author wrote this part well. It was not overdone or sensationalized; it sounded like a very realistic ritual.

The fact that the family spent time living on another planet was fascinating. All this takes place after first contact, so the realization of other aliens out there in space has had time to sink in for everyone on Earth. It’s great that Resa drew pictures of it and kept a journal while she was there. She adjusts to going back home to Earth surprisingly well. She seems to have the right people in her life to look out for her and help her out with everything that happens after she returns to Earth.

The author is very good at writing descriptions of characters. I especially liked how she describes one character:

She was pretty and petite, with big almond-shaped eyes that were outlined by wispy gray lashes. Her skin was the color of Alaskan glacial ice, crystal-turquoise with a shimmer of iridescence. Her white hair was drawn into a tight, sleek ponytail that grazed her waistline, and her short bangs looked like needle-thin icicles dangling on her forehead.

That and a lot more captivatingly descriptive writing awaits the reader of this book!

“Gemja” by K.M. Messina is a powerful, intriguing story that is hard to put down. I really enjoyed reading this novel. I felt as though it came to life as I read it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy. It’s a truly unique, out-of-this-world story that is hard to walk away from even after the last chapter!

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