Brian Yansky‘s Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences has one of the best opening lines and opening chapters that I’ve read in a long time.
Let me be clear. I am a total Brian Yansky fan, both professionally and personally, but I was not looking forward to reading his book. Why? I don’t love science fiction. I don’t know why exactly. Certainly, my experience with it (Orson Scott Card, Ursula Le Guin) has been pleasureable. It may simply be a matter of too many books to read and not enough time. Anyway, I was reading out of duty not passion.
Here’s what happened after the first paragraph…
“It takes less time for them to conquer the world than it takes me to brush my teeth. That’s pretty disappointing.”
…my curiosity was piqued.
Yansky, quickly sketches in the rules of this world and not in a humdrum way. No. He does it through that most illusive of craft elements: voice. The voice of the main character Jesse is vivid and funny. By the end of the six page first chapter…
“At first glance, the world doesn’t look all that different. But it feels different. It feels empty. It sounds empty, too. It’s so quiet. More than anything, the silence makes me feel what I’ve lost. The earth is no longer ours.”
…I was hooked. I wanted to know what would happen. I was invested. I did not put the book down. Seriously. No cheese sandwiches for this girl.
Yansky smartly chooses first person to tell this tale. We want to be right inside Jesse’s head. But so are the aliens. That’s how they communicate with our species through mind talk. So it’s not a far leap for Yansky to create a log written by Lord Vertenomous (Lord Vert) to his high command: the Republic of Sanginia. By having these alternating viewpoints at his disposal, Yansky gives the reader a glimpse into the enemy camp which has the effect of revving the action. After we peek behind enemy lines, we return to the scenes with Jesse, rooting for him, cheering, saying, “Come on, you can escape.” It is riveting.
Who is this book’s intended audience? Any teenager who wants a great adventure, end-of-the-world story. A little nihilism mixed in with the will to live. What could be better?
Now about that secondary character named Lindsey…the total narcissist…Hmmm…Brian?