Teens on the cusp of leaving their sleepy town shoot down a flying saucer.
Benji has spent his whole life in Bedford Falls, the same town his father grew up in and where his lawman grandfather currently serves. Benji dreams of leaving the Midwestern doldrums behind with his would-be sweetheart, Ellie, and pals Zeeko and CR. When a mysterious saucer shows up in the night sky, the foursome shoots it down, bringing a UFO and all the danger that implies crashing into their lives. Now Benji must do whatever he can to keep his friends, family, and town safe from government agents investigating the UFO. Bedford Falls isn't the only thing that needs a shot of adrenaline: Martin's narrative wanders and dawdles infuriatingly. Making matters worse are the undistinguished writing and poor characterization. The characters all seem to speak in the same John Green–esque voice, and it’s hard to differentiate them. The novel seems to have one eye on being a sweet romance and the other on being a tribute to 1950s sci-fi drive-in movies. These goals never work together, making for a split-personality read. The rare moments that pop feel like miraculous goofs; would that a few more drafts could have fixed the tonal issues and brought those interesting ideas to the fore.
Undercooked. (Science fiction. 12-16)