Review: A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys

Author: Ruthanna Emrys
Released: July 26, 2022
Received: NetGalley

3 1/2 kitties

It has been FAR too long since I’ve been able to dive into a science fiction novel (in truth, it’s been a few weeks – at most). That made me excited for my next slotted read, A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys.

We’ve seen several takes on the first alien encounter. Yet none will be more harrowing than A Half-Built Garden.

One morning Judy Wallach woke up to a painfully normal alarm – the one alerting her of unknown pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. However, it won’t be pollution waiting for her – but aliens. Aliens who seem to think that humanity needs to be saved from itself.

“On Earth, people like her had never given in—only died and made way for those more willing to listen,”

I felt like I was sold on A Half-Built Garden right from the start. The irony of a pollution alarm alerting us to aliens? That is such a human thing to do, much as I hate to say it. So it was easy to picture and easier to want to read everything that followed.

One of the many reasons I enjoyed A Half-Built Garden is that it didn’t get bogged down by human expectations of what defines ‘alien.’ What I’m trying to say is that the aliens were precisely that – alien. They weren’t humanoid by nature, but rather something other.

I would have enjoyed more time with aliens and the topics they opened up. Instead, this novel splits its focus into two things. The first should be obvious by now. The other half is a family drama. That isn’t inherently bad (far from it!), but it felt top-heavy and kept pushing me out of my reading zone.

I do love how thoughtful A Half-Built Garden is. I wish more novels had so much thought wrapped into their development. Perhaps I’m just saying that because I really appreciated the story’s commentary.

Thanks to and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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