Dark Energy by Robison Wells

Dark Energy may perhaps be overshadowed by having a similar plotl ine to the popular Undertow series by Michael Buckley. Take human-like aliens, mix them with a girl in high school, add hunky warrior love interest and requisite YA triangle, and you get the general idea. But similarities aside, Dark Energy suffered from some of the most glaring “logic and believability” issues I’ve come across recently; I just couldn’t suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the book.

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Story: An alien ship has dropped out of the sky and fallen across several states, killing hundreds of thousands in the process. Teen Alice has been dragged to cold Minnesota with her NASA-Researcher father so he can study the ship. When human-like aliens emerge, two are assigned to Alice’s school to help integrate these new ‘refugees’. Their arrival causes upheaval at the school and Alice soon discovers that there is much more to these aliens than they are saying.

The dialogue was quite snappy and amusing to read – especially between father and daughter. Although highly unlikely and unrealistic, the quips between characters did make me smile. Because this is a dialogue focused book, it does read very quickly and doesn’t bog down in places due to the ongoing reveals about the aliens.

But I honestly had a hard time with nearly every action taken by the characters. I don’t expect my YA to be all that grounded in real world logic – but there was so much that didn’t make any kind of sense that it was distracting. E.g., the moronic actions taken by the aliens who clearly have something to hide, that the government would send the aliens to a high school right after they landed, that kids would be ad hoc recruited to explore and photograph the inside of the huge ship (without parents’ permissions!!), etc. etc. And those are just the ones I can list without giving away spoilers.

So although Dark Energy was a quick and easy read with snarky fun dialogue, it also fell very flat on the storytelling aspect. Every fantastical tale really should be grounded within some semblance of a firm believable reality or it risks alienating (pun intended) readers. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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