“I Hope You Get This Message” by Farah Naz Rishi is a Captivating Fusion of Science Fiction and Self-Discovery


Charlotte Gumpel, Staff Writer

NASA has discovered information revealing that an alien race will be deciding Earth’s fate in precisely seven days.

Against this apocalyptic backdrop, three teens must decide what to do in their remaining days. Adeem, a Pakistani-American Muslim, lives in Carson City, Nevada, and sets out to find his older sister Leyla, who ran away from home two years ago after coming out as gay. Cate, a girl from San Francisco living with her mentally ill mother, wants to find the father that abandoned them years ago. Jesse, who is gay, lives with his widowed mother in Roswell, New Mexico. Once word that the aliens -from a planet called Alma- are sitting in judgment, worldwide chaos ensues. Adeem hears a message from Leyla and runs off to Roswell, where the message originated. Cate embarks on a journey to find her father. Jesse finds a machine created by his father and starts a lucrative scam “sending” messages to Alma. Through a mix of fate, desperation and circumstance, the stories of the three teens intertwine and overlap. 

Transcripts from Alma’s Interplanetary Affairs Committee offer insight into the moral dilemma faced by 13 alien jurors. They must weigh the value of human life against our species’ cruelty, violence and environmental destruction.

What caught my eye when I first read the blurb was the urgency behind the impending apocalypse. Yes, it has been done a million-and-one times, but what was so interesting was the fact that this book focuses simply on the human psyche in this period. There are no zombies to fight, no anecdote to discover, no villains to defeat. The true enemy in this book is the human desire for self-fulfillment. Every single person on planet Earth is fighting tooth and nail to do something, anything, that will let them die in peace. 

While the story is heavily centered around the characters, the science fiction element was still wonderfully woven into the story. I enjoyed how we were given insight as to what evidence the Alma alien jurors presented in order to come to their decision. While the purpose and achievements of the human race have been forever argued, it was so eye-opening to watch it be discussed by people who are not human. There is love, but there is war. There is the creation of society and production, but there is environmental ruin. Seeing the triumphs and fails of humanity be splayed out in a trial manner was breathtaking to read. 

The main message that sat with me after reading this book was the human desire for a healthy conscience in times of urgency. Feuds were nullified, relationships were rebuilt, confessions were spat out. Humans will do anything to answer questions that are left hanging in the air. 

And we see that being done by each of our main characters. The author, Farah Naz Rishi, did a wonderful job explaining the complex ways in which desperation and hope reign supreme in chaos. They are willing to give up everything in order to have some sliver of hope to lean on. It seems foolish, absolutely, but it is the reality of human beings. 

I Hope You Get This Message” is a profoundly heartfelt and complex story that will no doubt toy with your emotions. Among its tragedy, Rishistill finds a way to serve sincere words of wisdom that will stick with you.