Two middle schoolers might be Earth’s only defense against an alien takeover.
Haley, a slightly neurotic overachiever, wants a summer of adventure that will look good on her college applications. Dodger, a misfit who hears a phantom radio station in his head, hopes to finally find a place where he belongs. Haley and Dodger are brought together when they each receive a grant to study extraterrestrial activity. Their research could give them both what they desperately desire, but only if they can avoid being abducted. Assisted by the mysterious Alto, whose memory seems spotty at best, the two young investigators find themselves at the center of a global conspiracy. Unless the three unlikely heroes can figure out how to thwart the alien threat, Earth is scheduled to be turned into a zoo with mankind as its primary exhibit. Despite the looming takeover, Haley and Dodger face universal questions: Where did I come from? Where am I going? And are pancakes the perfect fuel for adventurers? Quirky characters and an intriguing mystery elevate this story above many other alien encounters. Overwritten inner monologues and a plot that sometimes meanders for no discernible reasons make pacing an issue.
Alien surprise with a side of early-teen angst makes for a decent read. (Science fiction. 10-14)