Blog Tour: Life On Other Planets by Matt Cook

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Title: Life on Other Planets
Author: Matt Cook
Price: £12.00
Publisher: Lendal Press
Publication Date: 10/06/2021

Hey all! How are you doing? Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for 'Life on Other Planets' by Matt Cook. If you're in the mood for an original and brilliant read then I hope my review will convince you to pick up 'Life on Other Planets'. Massive thanks to Isabelle Kenyon for organising and letting me take part in the blog tour, and to Lendal Press for my gifted copy of the book!


It is 1997. To himself, Benjamin Carter is a thing drifted somehow out of its orbit. With the news that Great Aunt Pearl is dead, his summer is looking like yet another non-starter. There's his summons to the clearance of her ramshackle house. His dad's awkward pep talks. A toxic cocktail of over-zealous aunts and uncles. And then there's the Church of the Holy Heavens - the space cult that's been wooing Pearl for all she's worth.

It was supposed to be simple: grieve, junk, funeral, home. But from the side-lines, Ben can see the cracks starting to show. When the search for a will goes off-beam, the Carters find themselves under siege by the property they all crave. Alone in the house together, the Carters' lives lock into something unrecognisable and their pursuit of Aunt Pearl's not-quite-worldly goods entirely consumes them.

From the very first page of the novel, I was completely absorbed by the story of Ben and his peculiar family. I had no idea what to expect in regards to how the story would unravel and end but I was not disappointed in the slightest. The novel explored grief extremely well, showcasing how strange and complex of an emotion it is. The descriptions of Ben not knowing how to act at the funeral and trying to be appropriate but his every action feeling unnatural, really resonated with me as I find that this is exactly how I feel at funerals. The novel also explored familial relationships and I found it intriguing to observe the way Aunt Pearl's house brought the family together but at the same time separated them.

Each character had their own, distinct personality but the character that stood out for me the most was the narrator of the story, Ben. It was interesting to observe the characters and their actions through the eyes of a fourteen year old. It was clear that the character was in the house but simultaneously he was an outsider who didn't fit in, just like his Aunt Pearl, therefore it is no wonder that he was as taken by the teachings of the Church of the Holy Heavens as she was. I also enjoyed how we got a glimpse into Aunt Pearl's life through the memories of her family and through her house, but also through her correspondence included in between the chapters. It was fascinating to read how her beliefs impacted the fate of her house and her family.

"The whole house was like paper mache, bound by paranoia instead of glue. A delicate internal webbing. Brittle, faded, hostile."

Whilst reading the book, I felt as if I was also in Aunt Pearl's house with Ben's family, confined and in a sort of bubble that, if burst, would make it difficult to function in the outside realms of the house. Cook's descriptions of the characters and the house definitely set the right atmosphere, and made me feel anxious to read on. I am often impacted by books but 'Life on Other Planets' is a novel that touched me like no other and it is definitely making my list of favourite books. 

Overall, 'Life on Other Planets' is a wonderful and original first novel from Matt Cook. It is also a novel that is atmospheric and which intertwines dark humour in an exceptional way. I look forward to reading more of Cook's writing in the future as I was completely absorbed by his storytelling and wonderful imagery. The novel is a great exploration of grief, familial relationships and spirituality; it definitely makes you reflect and ask yourself how you would function in such a strange situation with all those quirky characters. And it also makes you wonder: is there life for you on other planets?

'Life on Other Planets' is out in paperback right now so don't miss out on reading such a fantastic book!

Rating: 5 starts


About The Author

Matt Cook was born in 1979 in Chelmsford, Essex. He studied Psychology at the University of Manchester before becoming a freelance writer. He was a runner-up at Writing on the Wall's Pulp Idol in 2016, and his fiction and non-fiction has been featured in The Stockhold Review, Oblong Magazine, Number Eleven, Spelk, Boneshaker, Tusk, Small Doggies and Imbroglio. In 2020, he was shortlisted for The Cambridge Short Story Prize. Life on Other Planets is his first novel. He lives in Liverpool with his family.

Make sure to check out the other stops of the blog tour to find out what the lovely bloggers think of 'Life on Other Planets'!

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