cover image They Came from Below

They Came from Below

Blake Nelson, . . Tor, $17.95 (299pp) ISBN 978-0-765-31423-9

Initially, this novel reads like a spoof on B-grade science fiction with the introduction of some very improbable events. First, there is a nuclear explosion in the ocean. Then, an unidentifiable “blob” washes onto a Cape Cod beach and two strangers with odd mannerisms and ways of speaking suddenly appear in town. Yet it soon becomes clear that Nelson (Paranoid Park ) has something more profound in mind than tracking an alien invasion. After 17-year-old Emily and her sidekick Reese befriend the two strangers—who go by “Steve” and “Dave” and claim to be linguistic students—they experience some strange phenomena, such as being able to sense what animals are thinking and having euphoric dreams (“It was like I was floating on air and the sun was superclose to me.... and I somehow knew everything was okay and everyone loved everyone and the Earth was the best place in the entire galaxy”). After witnessing the duo’s remarkable healing powers, Emily suspects that there is something unearthly about them—suspicions that are confirmed when they reveal their true identities, histories and knowledge of the universe. Woven into the story are environmentalist themes and prophetic ideas that pack a punch and may inspire contemplation about the Earth’s uncertain future. Offering wittiness, suspense and ideologies borrowed from Eastern religions, Nelson reaches a new level of depth and creativity with this intriguing depiction of one very weird summer. Ages 13-up. (July)