HarperTeen, March 2016
From the publisher—
We are not alone. They are here. And there’s no going back.
Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest. Since then, nothing—or no one—has come out.
If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching the fallout on the news. But her dad is director of special projects at NASA, so she’s been forced to enroll in a boarding school not far from the crash site. Alice is right in the middle of the action, but even she isn’t sure what to expect when the aliens finally emerge. Only one thing is clear: everything has changed.
I don’t make a habit of guessing at authors’ motivations in writing particular books but I have to do it this time. I could be—probably am—dead wrong but I think Robison Wells had tongue planted firmly in cheek when he wrote Dark Energy. How else to explain the truly creative idea behind the story and the inclusion of more diversity than I’ve seen in a while with actions and behaviors that not only would never happen but no thinking individual would believe they could? Just as an example, after the aliens have been here only a few days, two are brought to a boarding school to live. Yeah, right. If you believe they wouldn’t end up in a lab somewhere, I have this bridge I’d like to sell…
Here’s the thing, though—I DON’T CARE how unrealistic and illogical it all is. I quite simply love this book and I applaud Robison Wells for coming up with a twist I absolutely never saw coming and, yet, it made perfect sense if you believe in life out there (and I do). There’s a lot of humor here (never slapstick, just normal) as well as shades of fear and a terrific roadtrip. The ending is actually a bit too rushed and I wish it hadn’t seemed quite so easy but I’ll still be including this in my favorite books read in 2016.
I also fell in booklove with all the major characters and I have to say that, for an adult male, Mr. Wells does a darned good job of writing teen dialogue, especially the girls. Leaving the whole alien thing aside, I really did connect with Aly, Rachel and Brynne and the latter two’s immediate acceptance of Aly is credible because of her connection to the crash site. An exciting time like this is exactly when teens would forego their natural snottiness towards a newcomer. They’re also very cool girls 😉
Kurt is no schlock, either, and I appreciated the lack of insta-love. The attraction is certainly there but the author lets nature take its course, thank heavens. And then there’s Aly. My goodness, I like this girl. She’s smart, brave, snarky and rebellious but she and her dad have a relationship we could all wish for and their mutual trust is, well, awesome.
So, put aside your need for credibility and just enjoy Dark Energy for what it is. If you’re like me, the only thing that will really nag at you is the title—I have precisely zero idea what it’s supposed to mean but, then, who cares? 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2016.