Novelists King (Double Feature, 2013, etc.) and Poirier (Modern Ranch Living, 2004, etc.) team up with debut artist Ahn for a graphic novel that's a madcap tale of college cliques, girl power, and oversexed body snatchers.
When a sleazy college professor smuggles a sack of soil out of a notorious meteor-impact crater in Siberia, he figures he’s a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize in astrobiology. But soon the microscopic alien life forms embedded in his pilfered permafrost thaw out into tiny blue bugs hellbent on infecting or devouring all human life—a scenario first played out in a Siberian village near the original meteor crash site in 1923 (“They made us pregnant,” the lone survivor claimed. “They filled us with jelly!”). As the aliens spread across the professor’s liberal arts college in Vermont, a hurricane strands a cross section of the student body—goths, bros, arty chicks, young Republicans, theater kids, Greeks, trustafarians, and the professor’s star pupil, Stacey—who must grapple with classmates turning into towering humanoid insects or swollen egg sacks. Spurred by her superior intellect and a secret crush, Stacey takes the fight to the invaders. While the trajectory feels familiar, the story is told with energy and a subversive charm somewhere between Edgar Wright and Eli Roth. Small quirks like a claim that chicken nuggets grow in water (“Big as a Christmas ham!") win the day, while depictions of various college stereotypes (particularly a pair of bros with backward baseball caps and popped collars) are delightful grotesqueries. Ahn’s illustrations have the clean, fat lines of animation stills as they depict tidal waves of goo and alien assaults, and her details (the stippling of a weak mustache) are enjoyably offbeat. Bookish Stacey’s instant and unflinching acceptance of her role as alien-killer (and killer of infected humans, who mostly accept their doom) deflates some emotional heft, but the fun is too infectious to resist.
An enjoyably irreverent diversion.