Shusterman (Scorpion Shards, 1995, etc.) delivers a tense thriller that doesn't duck larger issues, with echoes of the Nazi youth movement and The Wave. After Jason's friend, Ethan, reportedly dies of a burst appendix, the web of lies that has wrapped his humdrum existence in a small town begins to unravel. Jason discovers that his parents--and the parents of all his friends--were part of the advance force of an alien invasion, and that none of them--nor their offspring--are human. Now, nearly forgotten while Jason's generation grew to adolescence, the invasion force is coming, and the children are in training at the front line, while their parents scatter around the globe to prepare for the first strike. Simultaneously, the teenagers have started to metamorphose into their true alien forms; Ethan, alive after all, has already gone through the change. At first swept up in excitement, Jason begins to wonder if he really wants the invasion to succeed. Shusterman seamlessly combines gritty, heart-stopping plotting with a wealth of complex issues; this book is a natural in and out of the classroom. Jason's ultimate decision--to remain human at heart if not in form--is one with reverberations that both sophisticated and reluctant readers will want to ponder.