In Arthur’s sci-fi debut, humanoid aliens have arrived on Earth, offering miraculous technology, but young Jack Cousins knows they can’t be trusted.
Aliens, virtually indistinguishable from Homo sapiens, announce themselves on Earth in Las Vegas. They soon fill the marketplace with must-have toys exhibiting amazing tech that even the CIA can’t duplicate. The extraterrestrials explain they are welcoming man into the Directory, a vast federation of intelligent worlds. Their superscience soon ends Earth’s wars, poverty and disease. The aliens recruit thousands of young humans for “training” and ship them off-world to supposedly utopian destinations. Clean-cut Utah teen Jack Cousins, however, doesn’t believe in the visitors’ altruism. It turns out that Jack is the reincarnation of Tac-U-One, an alien troubleshooter secret agent who fatally crashed on Earth 16 years ago trying to expose a sinister scheme to corrupt the Directory and create a monstrous empire of slavery and exploitation. Jack becomes aware of this when he visits the site of Tac-U-One’s crash, and he embarks on a clever solo campaign against the invaders, using mind control, the media and legal maneuvering to nudge the aliens into revealing their unsavory true nature. Jack also tries to do right by his Earth family and his childhood sweetheart, Wendy, who are endangered by his resistance activities. Although the novel is geared to a YA audience, this series opener rarely talks down to its readers. Unlike other authors who have delved into the invasion genre, Arthur refreshingly avoids turning his novel into a tract on imperialism, colonialism or genocide. Indeed, notwithstanding some R-rated language and tastefully rendered acknowledgment of sex, readers may find it reminiscent of golden-age sci-fi tales of the 1950s. One detail does get short shrift in this outing: the fact that Directory society is built around the concept of reincarnation as an accepted reality. Future installments may expand upon that; the book ends with a peek at a planned sequel.
A solid launching pad for a sophisticated alien-invasion saga for older teens and adults.