Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Walter Jury, S. E. Fine
For ages 12 and up
Penguin, 2014   ISBN: 978-0399160653

Tate is an ordinary teenager who likes to goof off with his friends and who dotes on his beautiful, funny, and smart girlfriend. However, his life is not at all ordinary. Tate’s father expects him to excel in everything. Though Tate is only a junior in high school, he can already speak seven languages. He knows more about science than his peers and he has even managed to hack into the security system that protects his father’s lab, which no one is supposed to be able to get into. Thanks to a rigid diet and exercise regimen, Tate is in prime physical condition. The problem is that Tate has no idea why he is being trained to be so smart and so physically strong, and he resents his father’s rules and demands.  

   One day Tate goes into his father’s lab and he takes a hand held scanner that he finds there. He has no idea what the scanner does, but it is a cool looking device that flashes red or blue lights when it is passed over people so he takes it to school. Tate’s friends find the device entertaining, but his Game Theory teacher, Mr. Lamb, is particularly interested in it. Not long after Mr. Lamb asks Tate about the device, Tate’s father shows up at school. He does not tell Tate off for taking the scanner, he just insists that Tate should get the scanner and that they should leave the school at once. At first Tate does not understand why, but then the police show up and he realizes that they are after his father and perhaps him as well. Tate grabs his Christina, his girlfriend, and the three of them, with the scanner, make a run for it. As they run across the parking lot to a getaway car that has come to retrieve them, shots ring out. As they get into the car Tate’s father is hit and before they can drive away the driver also gets shot.

   Tate’s father manages to hold on long enough to tell his son what all the fuss is about. Four hundred years or so ago ships full of aliens landed on Earth. The aliens looked like humans so they were able to blend in with the human population. For a while they were in the minority, but over the centuries they have been slowly but firmly taking over the planet, and now two thirds of Earth’s population is not human. Their intention is to edge humans out altogether so that they can have Earth to themselves.

   Tate’s family members have known about the aliens for generations and they, along with a few other families who collectively call themselves The Fifty, have been trying to do everything in their power to protect humans from extinction. The aliens, H2, have infiltrated human society at the highest level, and they are determined that their presence on Earth will continue to be a secret. Most H2s have no idea that they are not human, and most humans have no idea that H2s exist.

   For centuries  there has been no way to tell who is human and who is H2, but now there is a device that can indicate if a person is human or alien. The device is the scanner Tate took from his father’s lab. Tate’s father built the device using materials that came from one of the H2 ships and now both the H2 leaders and The Fifty want to get their hands on it.

   Tate and Christina seek refuge with his mother and then the three of them set off for a place where they hope they will be safe. They just need to buy a little time so that they can find a way to bring the H2 leaders and the The Fifty to the negotiating table. The problem is that they may not have that time. Or any time.

   This thrilling, sometimes shocking book will keep readers on their toes from the first page to the last. One never knows that is going to happen next, though we can guess that what Tate has been told is only part of the story. There are more secrets out there that need to be revealed before he and his allies know the real truth about what is going on.