Yeah, I know I haven't posted in a while. I've done a lot of reading, though, so I have about three more reviews, maybe four, coming up when I get to them, including several books that are favorites of mine. At the moment, I'm reading The Shadow of the Wind, and I'll recommend it in advance.
Title: The Dark Side of Nowhere
Author: Neal Shusterman
What it's about: Jason Miller lives in the town of Billington, which is just about the most boring place you could ever imagine. Jason loathes how boring and normal his life is, but what's a ninth-grader to do about it? Then Jason's friend Ethan dies of appendicitis, the school janitor starts dropping enigmatic hints, and Jason discovers the dark secrets about his life that have been hidden under the fragile veneer of normalcy.
What I thought: This book is one of my three top favorite books ever. I reread it fairly often, and every time is just as good. First, we've got a sci-fi plot that makes sense. There's an excellent contrast between the normalcy of Billington and the exotic glimpses we get of the alien way of life. This book is also really good at making you think. Jason, the narrator, is a pretty perceptive kid, and his observations about things like mob mentality and morals are thought-provoking, but not in a way that yanks you out of the story. Jason and the rest of the characters are all well-developed. You can see why each of them act the way they do, and there are no villains for the sake of villains. Even Grant has justifications for his actions besides to be evil and obstruct Jason. Paula, also, is a pretty cool character, functioning pretty well as an outsider who doesn't have the same inside look at the alien secrets that we do. The writing itself? Excellent. Just the right blend of natural teenager narration with some more complex language and literary devices to really get across the depth that this story has.
Overall: Read this book now.