A young man discovers his entire life has been a lie—he’s really an alien!—in Graham (Darkest Journey, 2016, etc.) and Land’s (Strong Cold Dead, 2016, etc.) sci-fi thriller.
Alex—a handsome, blond football star—seems to be the quintessential American teenager. Of course, his upbringing is a little unusual, as his adoptive parents are Chinese immigrants, and he’s beginning to realize that he may be more attracted to his nerdy tutor, Samantha, than to his perfect head-cheerleader girlfriend, but all in all his life is pretty good. And then he’s injured playing football and his CT scan shows a mysterious “shadow” in his head. His doctor is murdered before he can explain the anomaly, and then his parents are killed—by a group of drones. It turns out that Alex was born on another planet, thrust through a wormhole by someone who wanted him to remain safe, and then closely monitored. The aliens, who long ago “seeded” Earth, are coming to reclaim the planet, and Alex is humanity’s only hope. The novel strongly disappoints because there is little real science in the science fiction. The structure is too committed to the bestseller model of extremely short, cliffhanger chapters that don’t advance the story but all too quickly lose the ability to build real suspense. By the time the crackpot professor is explaining to Alex about wormholes and alien strategy, there has been so little intellectual engagement offered the reader that it’s hard to care or focus on the particulars. The characters are overly simple, the dialogue is weak, and, despite a showdown at Alcatraz in the middle of the night, the action is surprisingly boring. At least there will be a sequel….
With a good director, this could be the new Stranger Things, but on the page, it’s bland.