152 pages, ebook
Children's, fantasy, thriller
Aliens disguised as humans, kidnapping, neighours with secrets, the FBI, some violence, a few occasions of strong language, a child's insatiable curiosity, murder,
Think: ‘Nancy Drew meets Men In Black.’
Thirteen-year-old Hazel has a rough life: two nerdy rocket scientists for parents, a kid brother convinced he’s an alien, and a housekeeper trained by the Spanish Inquisition. But when her parents vanish, the housekeeper turns into small bits of charcoal, and the police only shrug their shoulders, Hazel realizes she’s still got a lot to learn about rough.
As days drag by with no news, Hazel decides she’ll have to find her parents herself. And she’s determined nothing will stop her – not her complete ignorance of how to go about it, not her loony brother’s ravings about evil alien kidnappers, not even the dead guys trying to kill her.
But first she’ll have to join in a race to find something small and red and jolly. Winning that race will be her only chance to save her family. And a lot of other families as well.
This was a very fun read. Having aliens inhabit peoples' bodies is a concept that I'm really enjoying at the moment. It was strange because Hazel knew her brother wasn't her brother from chapter one. This made the book instantly appealing. I wanted to know why he was an alien, and why he was with Hazel. Hazel loves him, and wants to keep him safe. She wants the same for her baby sister, Nut (no spelling error). That's why when her parents disappear she takes matters into her own hands. Understandably she was annoyed when the authorities couldn't and/or wouldn't tell her anything new. When major incidents happen, the people involved want to know what's going on. Hazel has enough people that she knows who end up helping her on her mission for the truth. She needs all their help, especially with the drama at the end.
The way Hazel thinks made me laugh a lot. Her mind keeps on working, and the tricks she pulls to get her own way are clever, even if they do sometimes put her in danger. She has to deal with a lot of incredible events, but knowing her brother is an alien puts things into perspective. Her best friend Luelle is essential to some of Hazel's plans. I enjoyed learning why they were best friends, even though they are polar opposites socially. I liked how Igor is always looking after Hazel, how he tries to deal with her injuries when she is hurt, and she always tries to ignore them as she searches for the answers to why she was attacked. The ones who are after Hazel are very evil, and seeing them in action made my spine tingle. This book is definitely actioned packed and full of mysteries that kept me guessing until the end.
This is pitched at young adults, although I feel it suits the older range of children's fiction better. Hazel didn't feel as mature as protagonists in young adult do. The only issue I have with it is the swearing. Even though the words were initialled or had stars for all but the first letter, they weren't appropriate to the story. They didn't fit in with Hazel's voice. It wasn't her who said it, but the point of view at that time didn't match up with the rest of the point of views. There were places in the book where swear words were alluded to, but never spoken. This worked, which is why I was surprised to see two extremely strong swear words, one of which under 18's should not know were used. It would be easy to figure out what it is, and I wouldn't want children reading that. That did detract a little from my overall enjoyment of the book.
Never stand in the path of a thirteen year old girl who has determination by the bucketload: she will ferret out the truth even if it puts her life in danger.
0.4 by Mike Lancaster, aliens in disguise!
The Iron Bodkin by Amy Allegeyer Cook a fun read about another determined young girl
Boom! by Mark Haddon, yet even more aliens interacting with humans.