Review: Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro

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A groundbreaking Latinx Aliens novel by a rising star Latina author, featuring the fan-favorite character PFC Jenette Vasquez from the hit movie Aliens and the family she is forced to leave behind.

For the very first time, the canonical background of the breakout Aliens hero Jenette Vasquez, as well as the story of the children she was forced to leave behind as written by the rising Latina horror star V. Castro (Queen of the Cicadas).

Even before the doomed mission to Hadley’s Hope on LV-426, Jenette Vasquez had to fight to survive. Born to an immigrant family with a long military tradition, she looked up to the stars, but life pulled her back down to Earth—first into a street gang, then prison. The Colonial Marines proved to be Vasquez’s way out—a way that forced her to give up her twin children. Raised by Jenette’s sister, those children, Leticia and Ramon, had to discover their own ways to survive. Leticia by following her mother’s path into the military, Ramon into the corporate hierarchy of Weyland-Yutani. Their paths would converge on an unnamed planet which some see as a potential utopia, while others would use it for highly secretive research. Regardless of whatever humans might have planned for it, however, Xenomorphs will turn it into a living hell. 


There are three types of people who will read V. Castro’s novel Aliens: Vasquez. One group is the people who love the Aliens franchise and read all of the extended universe novels. The second group is the readers who love V. Castro and her works and are excited to see what she will do with the story of one of the most iconic characters in the Aliens franchise, Jenette Vasquez.  The third group is the niche reader who loves both Aliens and V. Castro. I’m in that third group. The day the novel was announced in May, I preordered it. Nothing could have been more exciting to me than the talent of V. Castro telling an Aliens franchise story. 

The novel opens with Jenette Vasquez growing up, getting into trouble, and working hard to follow her dream of getting into the military and fighting in the stars. She has twin children in prison, and the next half of the novel is about her children. We know what happens to Jenette, but what happens to her legacy? Ramon wants to make money and Leticia wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps. In the end, their paths cross and they end up on a team, getting into a situation that is far from ideal, which is pretty standard when Xenomorphs show up.

This novel will appease fans of V. Castro much more than the fans of Aliens. The novel spends most of the time developing the characters, telling the story of the Vasquez family and the actual Xenomorph scenes are less than twenty-five percent of the novel.

Aliens: Vasquez is not action-packed and wall to wall danger. V. Castro writes a family saga, filled with history, expectations, and secrets. Xenomorphs happen to show up in the middle of it. The focus is more of a character driven story, and the action sequences honestly are a backburner to everything else. Having previously read and reviewed two of V. Castro’s books, I had a sense that this was going to be the way that an V. Castro’s Aliens novel was going to unfold. I was not surprised, but I can understand how some readers, particularly those looking for a rollicking action/adventure novel, can be disappointed. This is a novel in the Aliens franchise that really spends more time helping us understand Vasquez, her motivations, and the way that her legacy lives on in her children than on fighting Xenomorphs. As an Aliens fan it is still worth reading, but as a fan of the works of V. Castro, this is a must read.

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