Sunday, June 2, 2013
Candlewick Press, 2010
Reviewed by Sesana
Three out of five stars
A polite race of telepathic killer aliens, a ten-second world conquest, and one teenage boy collide in this wry, gutsy adventure.
Jesse is in history class when a formidable, efficient race of aliens quietly takes over the earth in less time than it takes him to brush his teeth. Most humans simply fall asleep and never wake up. In moments, everyone Jesse knows and loves is gone, and he finds that he is now a slave to an inept alien leader. On the bright side, Jesse discovers he’s developing telepathic powers, and he’s not the only one. Soon he’s forging new friendships and feeling unexpectedly hopeful. When a mysterious girl appears in his dreams, talking about escaping, Jesse begins to think the aliens may not be invincible after all. But if Jesse and his friends succeed, is there anywhere left to go? Brian Yansky offers a funny, grim novel packed with everything boys and sci-fi fans love: aliens, humor, action, and a healthy dose of triumph.
A little disappointing, partly because the title just doesn't suit the book. Sounds like a kind of funny version of an alien invasion, right? Wrong. It ends up having a fairly serious tone, with a few lighter touches to keep it from getting too morbid. I don't have a problem with the tone, but the title needed to be changed to suit it.
But once I adjusted my expectations, it was decidedly not terrible. It has a definite whiff of summer blockbuster about it. The sort of thing that makes good money at the theater, but quickly vanishes from memory. It's a little heavy handed with all of the parallels between the alien invasion and the unsavory parts of human history. (This is JUST LIKE how American settlers treated Native Americans! Really! I'll tell you again in a dozen pages!) In a YA book, this would probably need to be pointed out, once.
The invasion itself is over on the first page of the book, so we don't even really get to enjoy that. It's unsettling, how quickly and easily it happens, but I would have liked to dwell on that Twilight Zone feeling. That's over way too quickly for me. No extended scenes of the main character discovering the full extent of the catastrophe. Most of the action after that point is done on the psychic level. But I've seen psychic powers and warfare done much better, so it really did nothing for me. Maybe somebody who'd read less SFF than me would get more out of it.
I did enjoy Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences while I was reading it, but it just wasn't memorable. If Yansky had been able to manage a comic (but not slapstick) version, I might have enjoyed it more. It's not a bad book, I'm just going to forget it very quickly.
Also reviewed on Goodreads.