Novelists concerned with social commentary often rely on the distance provided by foreign or alien perspectives to critique the culture under their consideration. Such is the case with Nick Oud’s The Hatchling and the Human: Say Who’s Who?, which introduces readers to the advanced alien race called the Gret.
As the novel begins, readers learn that the Gret have used human females as surrogate mothers for their hatchlings in the past. Lately, however, the humans have become so corrupt and violent that the Grets no longer wish them to serve as temporary parents for their human-appearing offspring. Moreover, the Grets have foreseen Earth’s imminent destruction through nuclear holocaust and have decided not to intervene.
Enter Evyonne Dippinandponder, the novel’s protagonist. Unaware that she is a Gret hatchling, Evyonne falls in love with Addum Loud, a gang leader. Addum is not your ordinary pack leader; his gang, while ostensibly appearing evil, does only good. Under his direction, the gang maintains an orphanage and a facility for progressive science. The gang also serves as a self-styled police force, meting out corrections when official channels are limited by “rules.”
Evyonne bonds so closely with Addum and his vision that when the Grets come to retrieve her, she is unwilling to abandon Addum and her friends. Much of the remaining narrative tension revolves around Evyonne’s and Addum’s attempts to save Earth from the predicted mass destruction.
Although Oud demonstrates an ability to forge subplots that further a tale, his book ultimately founders. His main characters suffer from slim development and are indistinguishable from one another in outlook. Their conversations carry the burden of the author’s message, whether it be that “peace is cool,” or the idea that sex should be uninhibited. Oud’s work is also riddled with malapropisms and grammatical errors.
These flaws make it difficult to engage in the story and, ultimately, readers aren’t likely to care about the fate of the human and the hatchling.