A bubbly, affectionate cheerleader must rescue her mother from an out-of-this-world danger.
High school junior Mana isn't a good student, but she loves and is loved by her white mom and Hawaiian dad. In her mostly white New Hampshire town, Mana and her two besties quip between enthusiastic cheerleading routines. But in a bizarre kidnapping attempt, Mana's crush, Dakota, is revealed as a vicious alien who spits green acid, flaps a long, froglike tongue, and spouts casual racism. Mana and Dakota scuffle at halftime, Mana avoiding blasts of acid by employing gymnastics moves she just knows are far beyond her normal capabilities, until a mysterious secret agent in sunglasses saves the day. Back at home, Mana's mother has vanished, their house has been ransacked, and Mana is attacked by a gray-skinned, web-footed murder monster (which, in an unfortunate bit of cultural appropriation, is called a Windigo, after the "old Algonquin story"). Mana, along with Sunglasses Guy and her two cheerleader BFFs (a dark-skinned girl and a light-skinned boy), has to save her mother, evade shape-shifters, and keep a dangerous bit of tech from the men in black. The constant bickering and banter between the four sputters erratically, occasionally stalling the pace of otherwise cinematic escapes and feats of gymnastic tumbling, but the comic tone does not falter.
Funny and fast-moving, with a compelling setup for potential sequels. (Science fiction. 12-16)