Shusterman, Neal. The Dark Side of Nowhere. Little, Brown, 1997. ISBN 0-316-78907-0. $15.95. 185 pp. A 7-12 FI Reviewed by Jan Staheli Jason is fourteen and trapped! Trapped in a nice little town, in a nice little school, in a nice little life. He feels as if he'll spend his whole life nicely, and when it's over he'll never have lived. Until the day, that is, when the strange school janitor stops him in the hall and gives him a weird metal glove-a glove that can shoot little metal BBs at incredible speed and force. From that time on, Jason's life seems to tilt and spin in a different direction. He and his girlfriend explore an abandoned area of town and find a twenty-year-old photograph. The only trouble is that the face belongs to a classmate of theirs, and there can be no mistake. The janitor, Grant, invites Jason to a secret meeting, and Jason discovers that many others his age also have gloves, and they've been target practicing with them. Then there is the matter of the weekly medical shots. They are kept very private by all the parents. No one talks about them, but everyone gets them “ don't they? Suddenly Jason finds out that not everyone does get shots, and perhaps the shots are doing something quite different than keeping him healthy. This is a great addition to the science fiction, what-if-aliens-landed genre. It turns out that Jason's parents are aliens who landed, but whose mission was aborted and they couldn't leave. They grew used to living on earth, even grew to truly love and appreciate life here as humans. Now the invasion is coming back. What will they do? The twists of pattern in this book are generally absorbing, and the underlying theme of what it means to be a human is subtle and perceptive.
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