Sunday, January 06, 2019

The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away

37767551Smith, Ronald. The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away
February 19th 2019 by Clarion Books
E ARC from

Simon lives with his family on an Air Force base in Delaware. His dad is white and his mom is black, but he wishes that everyone just thought of people as humans. After all, the big threat (as everyone knows) is ALIENS. Simon is obsessed with the fact that aliens, particularly the Grays, are going to land on Earth and wreak havoc on the planet. Simon is probably worried about this because he doesn't feel like there is a lot else he can do about his life. His older brother, Edwin, got all the sports genes, and Simon feels his father is disappointed in him. He'd much rather play MMORPGs with his friend Tony, but Tony is in Mexico. Simon also has significant asthma, still wets the bed, and doesn't get along with people at school too well. He is also working on his own epic novel, called Max Hollyoak and the Tree of Everwyn. After a family camping trip, however, Simon is sure that he aliens, in the shape of owls, have attacked him and implanted a chip in his stomach. His parents, concerned about his talk of aliens and his general level of oddness, take him to a psychiatrist who puts Simon on several different kinds of medication. These make Simon feel odd, so he stops taking them without telling his parents. Edwin's girlfriend, Miranda, fans the flames of his alien obsession by taking him to her father's group of people interested in alien abductions, and Simon spends a lot of time obsessing further about the aliens who are supposedly speaking to him. Finally, in a drastic bid to get away from the aliens, he tries to remove the implant from his stomach with scissors. He injures himself badly, and his family is convinced he tried to kill himself. Is Simon hallucinating, or does he have a valid concern about the aliens attacking Earth?
Strengths: I liked that Simon lived on an Air Force base; there should be more books about students from military families. It's also good to see a character who identifies as a "black nerd"; again, not many of these in middle grade literature. There are still some students who believe in aliens, and this was an interesting example of realistic science fiction-- are the aliens real or not?
Weaknesses: Simon is not an attractive character, with his negative attitudes and bed wetting. The whole beginning of the book concentrates on these negative attributes, which make the story start a bit slowly. I also wasn't a fan of Simon's novel being interpolated into the book.
What I really think: I generally like Smith's work, but books about alien invasion (with the exception of the action-packed Falkner's Recon Team Angel books (The Assault, etc.) or Walden's Earthfall trilogy) move very slowly in my library, so I may pass.

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