Welcome to the 2016 Cybils Speculative Reader!
As a first run reader for the Cybils, I'll be briefly introducing you to the books on the list, giving you a mostly unbiased look at some of the plot.
Synopsis: "There's a lot in the universe that we don't understand. Sometimes it lands here.
Alice is... not amused. Her dad works for NASA and he's like a little kid hopped up on sugar, because at LAST, at LAST, a real life Unidentified Flying Object has crash-landed in the Midwest, and it might be ALIENS. Which would be, obviously, awesome for him in the investigative sense, although Alice isn't sure that even potentially awesome aliens make it worth leaving Miami for the Minnetonka School for the Gifted and Talented in Minnesota. Alice - and her new roommates, Rachel and Brynne - are even less amused when actual aliens come out of the ship, aliens who call themselves "Guides." Um, really? Alice didn't sign up to be guided, thanks. Especially not by super pale - though admittedly also super muscular and hot - people who couldn't even land a ship properly and who have killed a lot of central Iowans. Alice and her friends think the whole thing is dubious. And when they get a chance to get a bit closer to the story, and even look inside the ship, they're even more skeptical - and more than a little concerned. There's something their new school mates are just not telling them...or the government... or Alice's dad. The alien's ship is like, a mile tall, and three miles long... so, just how big of a problem are they hiding?
Observations: Robinson Wells does voice and characterizations like few others - there's heart and humor in his novels, even when the incident - aliens landing! - isn't necessarily funny. Additionally, the combination of First Nations + Fantasy is very well done. Aliens + aliens arriving at Halloween is funny on myriad levels, additionally forcing the reader to look at what we celebrate in Western society and ask ourselves why we do what we do - which is always a good thing.
Dismissing the stereotypical Strong Female Character, Alice has dramatic self-doubt, but also hilarious nerdish tendencies, and a fierce, big-hearted love for her father. Half Navajo, half white, she is a product of both halves of her biracial heritage - comfortable with both hogan and being well-heeled - and she is refreshingly unapologetic about what her privilege gets her. Her roommates are scholastically gifted math and science scholars possessing a thoroughly sharp-eyed disinclination to believe whatever tripe the "management," whether faculty or government, is peddling. This rises so far above the disaffected characterization of a lot of teens in YA lit - these girls care DEEPLY which galvanizes them to challenge and to question and to not accept.
Conclusion: If you're into snark and Star Trek references, like real-life reflected diversity and adventure in your aliens-come-to-earth novels and tend to be narrow-eyed and cynical about believing anything but what you see... have I got a book for you!
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the public library. You can find DARK ENERGY by Robinson Wells at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!