cover image The Dark Side of Nowhere

The Dark Side of Nowhere

Neal Shusterman. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $27.99 (184pp) ISBN 978-0-316-78907-3

Jason Miller's life is like a Norman Rockwell painting--his parents enjoy woodworking and barbecues; his friends all play Little League; and his town, he says, is so uneventful that ""whenever I heard people talk about someone going nowhere fast, I figured they were headed here."" Why, wonders Jason, is everyone so insipidly happy? And why do some people need injections every month, but others don't? Shusterman (The Eyes of Kid Midas) delivers a science fiction page-turner in a classic mold: Jason realizes his town houses 30 extraterrestrial families--and his is one of them. They are scouts, prepping the earth for an invasion that is now imminent. Where do Jason's loyalties really lie? Cyber weaponry and strange bodily transformations keep the action speedy, and Jason's puppy love (a brash pitcher named Paula) rounds out the plot convincingly. Finally, the hero comes to empathize with the small-town cheer that once repulsed him. Pretty flowers and the taste of home cooking win out over the temptations of super-intelligence and world domination, proving that anatomy is not destiny--even if your parents are aliens. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)