Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences

Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences

Brian Yansky
Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Candlewick, 2010   ISBN: 978-0763643843

One very ordinary day Jesse is sitting in Mr. Whitehead’s history class when something extraordinary happens. Mr. Whitehead stops speaking in mid-sentence and Jesse hears a voice in his head. The voice tells him that he is “one of the few product who can hear” and that an alien race,  led by one Lord Vertenomous, has invaded Earth and conquered it in ten seconds. Everyone in the class except for Jesse seems to be in a deep sleep. Everyone in the school is asleep, and when Jesse goes outside he sees that the ground is littered with the bodies of humans and animals. Nothing is moving at all. Jesse sets off for home, but he never gets there. The aliens capture him and take him, along with the few other humans who can “hear,” to a bank building. The humans are told that they will be working for their captors, the Sanginians, for a while and that they are “product” or slaves. Eventually they will be sent to live with their permanent “masters.”

   The humans who have been spared are able to hear the telepathic messages that the aliens use to communicate. Jesse seems to be particularly good at hearing the messages so he and another “superior product” called Michael are sent to Lord Vertenomous’ house to serve him. Jesse and Michael become friends and soon a girl called Lauren joins their little group. All the humans in Lord Vertenomous’s house are receptive to telepathic communication, and as time goes by Jesse realizes that his ability is getting stronger and stronger.

   Then Jeese starts to communicate with a girl called Caitlin through his dreams. She tells him that she is Lord Vertenomous’ prisoner and she seems to be able to talk directly into Jesse’s mind, like the aliens. She confirms that there are rebels who are fighting back against the aliens, and Jesse begins to hope that maybe he won’t have to be a slave for the rest of his life. After some time, Jesse’s telepathic abilities get so strong that he is able to communicate with Michael and his other friends using his mind. They are all getting stronger, but the aliens don’t know. It never occurs to them that their human slaves might actually have a powerful telepathic ability, and that they could actually be a threat.

   The author of this exceptional, wryly funny, and often very powerful book combines Jesse’s first person narrative with personal logs, letters and communications that Lord Vertenomous writes. It is fascinating to see how the alien’s view of his achievements changes as the human survivors start learning how to use their telepathic abilities. His triumphant tone shifts as Jesse and the other humans start learning that their ‘masters’ are not all powerful and that the aliens are underestimating the strength and courage of their ‘product.’ 

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