Friday, February 07, 2020

Alien Abduction! The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith

"I think something happened," said Max. "We were camping. I was getting some firewood. I saw a light and like, an owl looking at me. And then I passed out. When I woke up, there was this little hole in my stomach. I think they put an implant inside of me!"

I thought Tony would burst out laughing, but he didn't. "I believe you, hombre," he finally said. "You have to tell somebody. What about your parents? I mean, they have to help you, Dude."

"I did. They thought I was crazy and took me to a doctor. They're making me take pills."

Tony bolted up. "Man, we gotta get you off of those!"

Mom thinks he needs medicine, his dad thinks he needs toughening up, his psychiatrist thinks he's delusional, and only Tony and his brother's girlfriend Miranda seem to believe what Max saw in the woods and the owls he keeps seeing in his window. Max believes he's been the victim of an alien abduction. And when Miranda takes him to a meeting of alien believers, what he hears convinces Max that what he feels is happening--the Grays, the extraterrestrials, is real. And they will return--when they are ready to use him.

If climate collapse weren't scary enough already, beware. Aliens are back, and we're not talking ET, either.

Not for the faint of heart, Ronald L. Smith's The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019) is for those readers who like to get goosebumps. Max is a wholly believable kid, one who hates gym class, never manages to please his military dad, but loves to read, one who would never seek out a ghost or an alien. But there it is--an owl, a loss of consciousness, something implanted just above his belly button and big-eyed birds watching him everywhere. Is he a just a disturbed child or can he see what the others cannot see is happening around them?

This is not your father's Boy-Meets-Bug-Eyed-Monsters story. Middle readers who like to get their pants scared off now and then will welcome this venture into the sci-fi tradition by veteran thriller writer Smith, who builds his tale of a seemingly normal summer vacation that builds to quite a climax, managing to blend British faery legend into a a tale of aliens with their own plan for saving the world.

Roland Smith's latest is ready to pair and scare thriller lovers with Smith's award-winning and bewitching Hoodoo (see my review here).

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