The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away
Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he's too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens—dark and foreboding.
Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?
Even readers who don’t believe in UFOs will relate to the universal kid feeling of not being taken seriously by adults that deepens this deliciously scary tale.
When Simon and his parents are on a camping trip, Simon passes out while getting firewood and believes he has been abducted by aliens. He tells his parents about it, and they end up taking him to a therapist who puts him on medications, which he hates. He is sure that he was abducted and seeks more evidence, accompanied by his friend and his brother's girlfriend.
What I loved: Simon is biracial, and racism is addressed in the book as a tertiary plot, but still was included well. There is some sexism and harshness to his father, which is not as well addressed, but which is pointed out as muscles not being the only form of strength (and that is a positive message). I appreciated that his parents sought out the help of a therapist/psychiatrist, which I think is a positive practice
What left me wanting more: However, in terms of therapy, this was not a positive experience, and Simon is frequently dismissive/rejecting (not uncommon), but I do prefer that books for this age group show this in a more positive/helpful light. There is also a story which Simon is writing that felt like it took up a bit too much space. While we could see the comparisons between Simon's character and himself, the story felt like it derailed Simon's story a little more than if it hadn't been included, without adding so much to the plot. Also, the ending felt a little out there/did not clearly lead up to it (making it a bit hazy/unclear) and so a bit sudden.
Final verdict: Overall, this was an intriguing book with some good characterization and will appeal to people who like an underdog-style story.