I have several books by Robison Wells, but Dark Energy is the first one to make it to the top of my “To read” list. Aliens have crash-landed, and Alice’s father is a director at NASA, so they have to move to Minneapolis in order to be near where the space ship crashed. Alice is not happy to move from sunny Florida to the deep freeze of Minnesota, but she is comforted in the fact that she gets to bring her beloved Bluebell with her: a BMW 550i Gran Turismo.
Alice was an interesting main character. She is part Navajo (which—slight spoiler—turns out to be important), and like most teenagers, is constantly thinking about what others think of her. She is too smart for her own good, and has a sarcasm streak at least as long as the alien ship and as wide as the Great Plains.
The aliens in Dark Energy were very alien in the way they acted, for the most part. The background story reminded me just a little bit of Alien Nation, but Wells’ take on the “stranded aliens” story is still very original. I thought the explanation for the origin of the aliens was creative and worked well. Wells has a solid understanding of the mythos being used, and treated it with respect. It would be great to have further books which explore this origin story.
While I know all the kids attending the private school in Minnesota are supposed to be geniuses, I found the dialog to be more mature than would be expected from a bunch of teens (regardless of how smart they are). It felt to me like a little too much knowledge of the world and how things work. It just didn’t ring true.
It was refreshing, however, to not have the protagonist getting all frisky with her love interest. It seems like a lot of older young adult books have more and more of that, so I applaud Wells for going for a more mellow approach to intimacy. It made the story stronger, and allowed Alice to grow more naturally in love instead of growing up too quickly through infatuation.
Near the end of Dark Energy, the story picked up the pace significantly. Perhaps too much. The story could have used another 20 pages or so to make the ending feel less rushed. As I mentioned above, I thought the mythology was handled respectfully, so I don’t have a problem with that. However, having more time to explore the mythology and culture being presented in those pages would have been nice.
I enjoyed this book. It is a solid read, and I hope Wells puts out more in this particular universe. I think there could be a number of good stories lurking about within it. If you like unusual alien contact stories, Dark Energy is a good one. I recommend it!
Release Date: March 29, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 0062275054 (9780062275059)
Language: 1 (very brief and mild)
Violence: 1 (fighting aliens, some death, nothing too graphic)