4 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this work.
A UFO has just crash-landed in the US, and now Alice has to move to the boring midwest because her dad works for NASA and needs to be by the crash site. Instead of safely watching the unfolding drama from a safe distance, she is now next door to a spaceship containing who-knows-what, while dealing with all the drama that comes with being dragged halfway across the country and starting at a new school. She gets a front row seat as humanity greets visitors from space for the first time.
This book has a fantastic narrative voice. Alice is funny and personable and she really comes across as a 3-dimensional person. Her voice is one of the best things about this novel. It was so skillfully done it was a pleasure to read.
Dark Energy is unique in that most science fiction and dystopias take place after first-contact situations and only refer back after the fact. Here we get to see events as they unfold in real time, both through Alice’s own perceptions and through the media she observes. The combination of fear and excitement was very true to life (in what I imagine true to life would be should anything like this ever really happen). Alice is not immediately super heroine who has to save the world, just an ordinary girl watching something extraordinary unfold.
The mystery that extends through the novel of who the aliens are and why they came to Earth was a good plot line for this type of book. The aliens do not immediately try to take over Earth, but take their sweet time coming out of their crashed spaceship and start negotiating with Earth’s leaders. It was a much more realistic and sensible than aliens wanting to kill us for no reason. Watching how politicians and other world leaders might react to this sort of situation was thought-provoking and I spent some time trying to figure out what my ideal first contact response policy would be.
The plot actually also rings fairly true to the current migrant crisis. People are scared and wary of the foreigners and reluctant to try and integrate or talk to the newcomers. The aliens are stuck with their situation since they cannot get home (their spaceship is totalled) and they are relying on the goodwill of Americans for their continued survival.
This was a great, funny read that was well thought out and engrossing! Go ahead and pick it up.