Strange Days
Strange Days
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Annotation: When inexplicable events begin to occur, Los Angeles native Alex Mata uses his special ability of time travel to save the world from alien invasion.
Catalog Number: #168157
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 422 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-524-74024-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-524-74024-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017061063
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Alex Mata is a skateboarder, tagger, and guitarist, haunted by the death of his beloved elder brother, Pete, and the disturbing, perhaps untrue news stories of aliens who are systematically targeting and killing humans. But when he comes home to find his parents dead on the kitchen floor and a huge, creepy bug hovering over them covered in blood, he decides to take a mysteriously proffered bus ticket and leaves Los Angeles for Seattle. Once there, he's taken into a mysterious compound with other teens who, like him, have the ability to glide through time and change events by witnessing possible futures. The group of X-Men-like teens is deliberately multicultural, of many different ethnicities and sexual orientations, but all share the belief that they are doing good.Then Alex discovers all is not as it has been presented, and he must decide how to save himself d the world. Singer plays clever tricks with time travel and the ways in which it can affect past and future knowledge, and he leaves readers hanging and eager for the sequel.
Kirkus Reviews
As an impending alien invasion threatens Earth's future, 17-year-old Latinx Alex Mata grapples with self-doubt, loss, and love in Singer's assured debut.Curious times await Alex: Terrifying rumors of alien encounters abound, and dissonant guitars and a teasing voice invade his mind. After an alien murders his parents, he's wanted for questioning. Fleeing from Los Angeles to Seattle, Alex joins an underground group set on stopping the incoming extraterrestrial menace. Led by enigmatic tech whiz Jeffrey Sabazios, the group of teens must travel through time witnessing—exploring future scenarios and locking them into place—to ensure humanity's survival. The U.S. government denies all suggestions of alien activity; the president's daughter, meanwhile, encouraged by a time/mind-traveling Alex, learns the truth and plans on alerting the public. Things eventually, and predictably, take a sinister turn, ending in grim revelations amid an apocalyptic backdrop. The author succeeds more in his development of Alex, a young man learning to deal with his self-worth and feelings for others, including Paul, his white, gay roommate, and a black teen named Corina, his love interest. More intriguing thriller than hardcore science fiction, the novel mixes doses of political intrigue with extraterrestrial dread. Portions of the story are stretched out at unnecessary length, but sweet moments between characters keep things heartfelt.Entirely human in its affections and an occasional page-turner. (Science-fiction thriller. 12-18)
Publishers Weekly
In this ambitious yet uneven thriller, Alejandro -Alex- Mata struggles to save the world from an alien invasion by using his ability to see the future and influence events toward his desired outcome. After being framed for his parents- murder by extraterrestrial Locusts, Alex finds refuge in the compound of tech billionaire Jeff Sabazios, who uses time-gliding -witnesses- like Alex to shape the future so that humankind can survive. As Alex gains greater control and understanding of his powers, he receives a message from his own future self that could change everything. Debut author Singer delivers a fast-paced adventure with a diverse cast and an intriguing premise, but the various parts don-t quite hold together. The inclusion of time travel and predestination paradoxes mean that Alex-s actions are written in stone before they happen, and certain major twists will come as no surprise. However, the tense atmosphere and memorable characters will keep readers turning the pages to the ambiguous ending, which leaves the door open for a sequel. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up{amp}ndash; Alex Mata is interested in playing guitar, hanging out with his friends, and getting his hands on the latest technology. He isn't too concerned about rumors that aliens might be real and might be kidnapping people. That is, until he comes home to find his parents murdered{amp}mdash;by aliens. Shocked and confused, Alex is recruited to be a Witness by Jeffrey Sabazios, who claims that his technology can protect Earth from the alien incursions. As a Witness, Alex travels through time to observe future events and lock them into place. In Sabazios's compound, Alex finds his purpose and begins to grow closer to some of the other Witnesses. Alex's ability to move through time, however, is greater than that of his friends, and because of this, he uncovers secrets that he and the other Witnesses are not supposed to know. Faced with the truth, Alex has to make tough decisions about whom to trust as he tries, once again, to save the world. Alex narrates in a unique voice that will appeal to eager and reluctant readers alike. Featuring a diverse cast, this sci-fi novel is grounded in the real world: Alex tackles questions of identity and his own interactions with others all while trying to deal with the alien incursions. Fast-paced and intense, this is a compelling choice for readers looking for science fiction set closer to home. VERDICT Purchase where there are fans of Scott Reintgen's "Nyxia" books.{amp}mdash; Zo{amp}euml; McLaughlin, Michigan State University
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ALA Booklist (12/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (12/1/18)
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
The Tamale Lady comes around the front of the school early on Mondays, so Zeon and Big Schmo are already in line at her cart when I walk up.
Zeon nods when he sees me. Coughs, "T'sup Plugz."
"T'sup." I fall in line behind Schmo, watch as the lady pulls dollars out of people's grips with one hand while grabbing tamales from her thermos box with tongs in her other. She says something in Spanish to a kid in front of me and then she smiles wide enough to show her teeth.
The kid says something back to her and then she says something else and everybody laughs, including the kid, but my Spanish sucks so I don't get the joke.
"You get any of that?" Zeon asks me quietly.
I turn back to him, give him a small shrug. "Yeah."
He smiles like he doesn't believe me. "She just burned him to the ground, Pocho."
Pocho's not my name or anything, it's just a word for people like me who don't know Spanish. Zeon's been translating for me since we were in grade school and he gets tired of it. I move my head a little. "I heard her."
Zeon looks at me weird, but drops it when Fizzin comes up behind us, grabbing my shoulder. "You got me on this, bro?" Fizzin never has any money.
I only have a couple dollars, so I shake my head.
He turns and looks at Zeon, who nods, reaches into his pocket for some bills, and hands them to Fizzin. Zeon's hair whips back when he turns, giving a flash of his ear. His pod doesn't look normal--it's small and matches the color of his skin.
Somebody's playing a guitar nearby, picking at the strings.
"You hear that?"
Nobody says anything. Nobody else seems to notice, so I ignore it too, and point at Zeon's ear. "You got Live-Tech?" I've never seen one in real life, but Tony Baez has been bumping them endlessly on his channel. The size and color-blending are giveaways.
The Tamale Lady looks at us. We tell her what we want and she collects our money before handing us our tamales. We take them and step back across the street into the shade from the big apartment building.
When we're situated, I reach out for Zeon's ear with my free hand so I can pull his hair back.
He lets me, tilting his head so it's easy to see. "Gotta be prepared for Incursions."
Incursions. I can feel my jaw go stiff, so I force myself to open my mouth and take a breath. They've been happening for a while and even though nobody in the government is willing to say they're real, a lot of us are convinced they are. For Beems and Zeon and Schmo and the rest of my crew, it's a faraway thing, like a fight video with kids you don't know--something to talk about, something to joke about--but to me they feel real.
It feels like they're going to be the death of me, but I haven't said that to anybody. I mentioned them to my dad, but he said I should worry more about riding my board in traffic, and that if they were really aliens then the government would've made sure we'd never even heard about them. Still, they scare the shit out of me because the men in my family are cursed and if an Incursion is going to get anybody around here it'll probably be me.
I take another bite of my tamale, but my fear makes it taste bad.
"You believe that shit? You believe that thing'll keep you safe like Jeffrey Sabazios says?" Fizzin asks as he and Schmo fall in on the other side to look. Fizzin reaches out to touch it. "Does it really read your mind?" Then: "Isn't the government getting ready to ban those things?"
Zeon shrugs. "Fuck if I know, man. They're legit cool, though." He slides his screen out of his pocket--it's smaller than most screens, but then it starts to unfold and ends up twice the size of mine. He holds it up in front of us. It brightens from black, scrambles for a moment, then I'm looking at a picture of us looking at his screen.
"Oh shit!" Schmo yells, dancing backward and then jumping back into the circle, pushing Fizzin out of the way. "You did that with your mind? Controlled the screen? You didn't even say anything. That's . . ." He shakes his head. "Do it again."
Zeon's screen brightens again, but this time instead of a picture of us, it's showing something else. "Called your girl, Plugz," he says.
I freeze. He called Mousie. I don't want to talk with Mousie in front of everybody--I don't know what we'd say to each other that wouldn't be weird and embarrassing.
Too late. She's on the screen now. She looks confused. "Who's this?" Her voice isn't going to his earpod--it sounds like it's coming from the screen, so I lean in and shake my head. I can't stop my mind from playing out all the dumb things I say in front of her when we're alone that she might repeat in front of everybody. "Hey." Lame. "Zeon's got Live-Tech."
"Really?" She's not looking directly at me--she's scanning the heads falling in behind mine. "That's cool."
"Yeah." I reach out behind me, shove Fizzin and Schmo out of the picture. Something rings in my ear, a sustain, like a whispered chord on a distant guitar. I turn to look for the instrument, but there's nothing to see.
"Are you gonna be here?"
Whatever it was, it's gone. I turn back to look at Mousie on Zeon's screen. "Huh?"
"What time is it?" I dig into my pocket for my screen.
"No shit." I look down at my tamale. Then: "Yeah. I'll see you at break."
"See you."
Zeon's screen goes blank.
By the time we're ready to walk, we're already ten minutes late, but that's okay. We move slow and eat our tamales as we go. First period is chemistry, and no matter what Mr. Wakefield says, I'm not going to pass it even if I'm there from the beginning of class.
On the way, Fizzin says something about Incursions again. Everybody else laughs, but I can't do more than a smile.

Ever since talk about Incursions started, my Tía Juana is the only person I know who's freaked out by them like me. Even though they haven't happened in America yet she doesn't even like me walking home from school--she thinks it's too dangerous to be outside alone. Her son Alex died before I was born, and because I'm named after him, she takes special care of me.
She messages me right before the end of school saying that she's coming to get me. I can't say my message back to her because I'm in class, so I have to unfold my screen to type her a message telling her she shouldn't because I'm going to hang with Mousie, but she says she's already here.
My hair falls over my face as I look at the screen in my lap, making it hard to see, so I have to readjust myself and my screen. My aunt says for me to meet her down at Beverly so she doesn't get stuck in school traffic.
I text Mousie to tell her that I can't hang, even though I don't want to.
Meet me later? she sends back.
The lake
The teacher's saying something, she's looking right at me, talking.
I want to text Mousie back, but I can't because the teacher's pinned me with her eyes. I'm supposed to be doing something, but I don't know what, so I lean forward and bring my arm up with my stylus like I'm going to write because that's what everybody else is doing, but there aren't even instructions on my desk's screen and the response window where I'd input my work is grayed out, so I don't know what I'm supposed to do.
"Mr. Mata? Do you have any thoughts?"
"About what?" It comes out with a laugh that I don't mean to do, but I can't stop it.
She sighs, gives me a smile that says she's tired of me. "Why people voted for Eugene Debs even though he was in prison?"
She's still staring at me and now my face is getting hot because I can feel everybody else staring at me, too. I think I sort of know the answer. We were just learning about how he was a socialist who wanted the working people to be in charge of things, and how that was what a lot of people wanted.
But I'm not sure I'm right, so I shrug and shake my head.
"No thoughts?"
"Nah." My screen lights up in my lap. Mousie again.
If I had a Live-Tech pod, I'd be able to message Mousie with my mind and still look like I was working.
My auntie gets me things sometimes. I showed her some stuff about Live-Tech a while ago, but she was totally against it. She doesn't trust things that play with your mind, and like a lot of people she's sure Jeffrey Sabazios is out to get us.
Maybe I'll ask again.
I bring it up when I get in the car. "Jesse's got Live-Tech."
My aunt squints at me. She still has a car that you drive, so she's got her hands on the steering wheel as she pulls away from the curb, moving slow to keep from hitting the other cars picking up kids. "He shouldn't have that," she tells me. "Jeffrey Sabazios's gonna know all his thoughts--even the president says so."
I shrug. "Sabazios says it'll protect him from Incursions."
"That's crazy, mijo." She shakes her head like she's disappointed in my thinking. "He's using the Incursions to get people to give him their minds, and your mind is something you should never give up to anyone but God. You think it's coincidence Jeffrey Sabazios 'comes up'"--she makes air quotes with her hand still on the steering wheel--"with his mind-control stuff right when the Incursions begin and that suddenly it's going to save you? Use your brain, Alex. He's conning you. You want to stay safe from the aliens, you stick with me."
This is hopeless. "Maybe, but it means Jesse never needs to worry about getting his screen jacked." The Live-Tech pods and their screens only work for the person they've been mated with. She knows that. "He won't have to worry so much walking alone home from school."
She clucks, shakes her head. "Not about criminals, maybe, but he won't be any safer from an Incursion no matter what Sabazios says." She turns to put her eyes on me. "Sabazios is playing people for fools--trying to earn his money off your fear, scaring people into giving him control of their minds." She bugs her eyes at me. "That's why no serious people are buying his Live-Tech stuff and why President Castle's trying to get it banned." She looks across at me like I'm a baby. "Those are the facts, no matter what you see on your channels."
I reach up to fiddle with my pod. It's new, but it's a little too big for my ear and it hurts after a while, plus the sound pass-thru which they said was going to be 100% isn't anywhere near that good. "People are buying it," I say, sounding whiny, which I hate. "Lots of people. It's already everywhere."
"It's not everywhere, and it's not going to be on in your ear, mijo."
I don't really hear her, though. There's other noise, sounding like a strummed guitar again. "Do you hear that?"
"Hear what?" she asks, eyes fixed on the road.
"That sound, like a guitar?"
She cocks her head, brushes some of the hair away from her ear, listens, then: "You play that thing too much, now you hear it everywhere. I don't hear anything."
"Yeah." I'm not sure I do, either, anymore.

Excerpted from Strange Days by Constantine J. Singer
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Contemporary fiction with a sci-fi edge, perfect for fans of Ernest Cline and Marie Lu.

Alex Mata doesn't want to worry about rumors of alien incursions--he'd rather just skate and tag and play guitar. But when he comes home to find an alien has murdered his parents, he's forced to confront a new reality: aliens are real, his parents are dead, and nobody will believe him if he tells. On the run, Alex finds himself led to the compound of tech guru Jeffrey Sabazios, the only public figure who stands firm in his belief that aliens are coming.

At Sabazios's invitation, Alex becomes a Witness, one of a special group of teens gifted with an ability that could save the Earth: they can glide through time and witness futures. When a Witness sees a future, that guarantees it will happen the way it's been seen, making their work humanity's best hope for stopping the alien threat. Guided by Sabazios, befriended by his fellow time travelers, and maybe even falling in love, Alex starts feeling like the compound is a real home--until a rogue glide shows him the dangerous truth about his new situation.

Now in a race against time, Alex is forced to reevaluate who he can love, who he can trust, and who he needs to leave behind.

Debut author Constantine Singer's fresh-voiced protagonist leaps off the page in this captivating novel that weaves sci-fi and contemporary fiction.

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