An adolescent finds an inquisitive alien one night and ends up on a hair-raising flying saucer ride.
Terrio’s (Dinosaurs, 1994, etc.) sci-fi novel is a middle-grade/YA adventure whose narrative covers less than 24 hours. Paul Roberts is a 12-year-old boy in suburban Virginia whose dad does some elite work for the military (this becomes of crucial importance later). One night after an evening of space-battle video gaming, Paul awakens to a genuine E.T. in the family home. Calming the panicked Paul, the diminutive, slender male—mostly humanoid, except for catlike eyes—reveals that his name is Kilaah and he is simply curious about Earth and its people and will be taking a brief look around. Paul—who dubs the being EIBE, for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Biological Entity—talks the extraordinary visitor into giving him a ride on the requisite UFO parked nearby. While EIBE/Kilaah asks naive questions about human customs and speech, Paul gets a top-secret peek at astounding things that governments have been covering up for ages: the lost continent of Atlantis—humanity’s true origin—in ruins beneath the ocean, its power-source crystal still dangerously functioning, and a rival race of unfriendly reptilian aliens in triangular crafts monitoring the planet but with ill intentions. The story delivers more than just expository dialogue; very quickly, Paul, EIBE, and the flying saucer (which carries no fancy weapons) are in danger from human and E.T. threats alike. Readers hip to real-life pseudoscience/conspiracy literature will realize that Terrio makes up very little in this fast-paced tale, drawing from a wellspring of existing UFO folklore and terminology (“Fast-walker”). He takes such louche topics as cattle mutilations, alien abductions, and the whacked-out dream visions of cult figure Edgar Cayce and weaves the threads of supermarket tabloids into a coherent whole (somewhat better than many of the genre’s “nonfiction” authors do). Results can either be taken as a breezy and surprisingly heartfelt first-contact escapade for tween and teen readers or (cue scary theremin music) a novel-as-propaganda tool meant to persuade youngsters not normally equipped for critical thinking into believing all those entity encounters that author Whitley Strieber goes on about. But it’s hard to get mad at a raffish narrative that can’t resist a shoutout to the Tim Burton spectacle Mars Attacks!
X-Files stuff, but with more gee whiz than shadowy brooding.