Two winners in a row!
Okay, let me set up a scenario for you: think about life with your pet. Not the petting, playing, hanging out with your pet, but the actual life. Making eye contact with your cat while you pee. Showering naked with your dog so that bathroom doesn’t get trashed. Cleaning their butts when…butt things happen.
Feeling bad for your pet when you take them to the vet and other butt things happen.
So, say you get this new, exotic pet. First of its kind in your area. No one knows anything about it, it’s just high maintenance and pretty. And then after several weeks of living normal pet owner life, you discover…
Not an animal. Another species of your intelligence. Misclassified as a pet, witnessed a murder. Seemed like the best idea way to avoid also getting murdered was to keep pretending to be a pet.
Welcome to Beyond The Next Star.
Again, it’s the realism within the ridiculous premise that got me. Everything that Torek does is what any of us would do with a pet. Everything Delaney does is what a pet would do. She pees on the floor. She vomits and casually walks away. She listens to commands…until she gets bored of them.
She also suffers through vet visits. She gets her period and has to just let the vet and Torek deal with it. She’s an exotic pet, so there are always students with the vet. She’s humiliated all the way through it, but she knows if anyone finds out, she’s dead.
I didn’t think the romantic element would work in it, but it did. And the story was so interesting that it didn’t bother me that it came in late. Johnson eased that element in just right that it wasn’t weird that Torek didn’t flip out that Delaney was actually a person, and I was worried that it was going to get a beastiality vibe, but it didn’t.
My only complaint was that there were a lot of circular arguments in it. Dramas, both spoken ones and “person/pet” struggles, went on longer than they needed to. It wasn’t so big of a problem that I thought it deserved less than five stars, but there was a moment where I started skimming through them to get on with the plot.
Seriously though, I only tell you this to tell you I did notice it, but I didn’t think it ever got severe enough to fuss about it. If you’re looking for a weird twist on the alien romance that’s believable but oh dear god, check this one out.