Review Detail

3.3 1
Young Adult Fiction 4122
Twist on alien invasions
Overall rating
Writing Style
Alice's father is an important NASA researcher, so when an enormous space ship crash lands in the Midwest, killing a large number of people, he is sent to investigate. Because he will be working long hours, and Alice's mother (who was an enrolled member of the Navajo) is deceased, he enrolls her in exclusive Minnetonka School for the Gifted and Talented so that she can be near him and not too far from her grandmother. She settles in fairly well, enjoys her two science loving roommates, as well as the amusing Kurt, but watches with horror as the drama with the spaceship unfolds. Originally, the ship was thought to hold 130,000 aliens, but only a few Guides come out, including Mai, who seems to be the leader. His children are Coya and Suski, who look very much like pale humans, and they are also enrolled at Minnetonka. Armed with translators, they quickly learn the ways of humans, and Alice comes to think of them as friends. At one point, Alice and her friends are allowed to explore the ship, and find some very disturbing scenes. This, along with the fact that genetically Coya and Suski seem to be descended from the Anasazi/Ancestral Puebloan people and their language is connected to Keresan, makes Alice wonder about the origins of the Guides. When a huge secret is revealed, there are bigger problems, and Alice and her friends go on the run to try to save themselves as well as Coya and Suski.
Good Points
I loved the huge plot twist-- I probably should have seen it coming, but completely did not! It ties in beautifully with Alice's heritage, and the fact that she and her friends go to her grandmother's home in New Mexico brings in more details about Navajo life. It is rare to see First Nations people in fantasy or science fiction books, and the author has a note at that back about the lengths to which he went to make sure the details met with the approval of tribal members he knows.

The atmosphere of being in an exclusive, remote private school and having a cataclysmic event happen is very appealing, and even readers who don't necessarily want to read about aliens will be intrigued by the book because of it. Alice's father is from a wealthy east coast family, so she drives a very expensive car, and while she has lived mainly in Florida and gone to public school, she does well at making friends immediately.

The aliens in the book are well done, and even the fact that they look human is addressed with humor. The technology to help them learn language is believable, and the things they enjoy and do not enjoy about US teen life are amusing.

Readers of Jeff Hirsch's and Veronica Roth's dystopian books will enjoy this, as will readers who have watched too many books about alien invasions! Anyone who has read Falkner's The Assault will know that you have to be careful when aliens come to our planet-- not only can't you give them just a tiny bit of Australia, you have to be cautious if they want to set up tent cities in Minnesota! This is a fantastic choice for any reader who has an interest in life forms other than our own.
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