By Cynthia Bujnicki
Alex Mata does not care about the rumors of aliens invading and kidnapping people around the globe. All he cares about is his music, his skateboard, and hanging out with his friends. That is until they come for him, killing his parents and sending him on the run. Now, at the invitation of Jeffrey Sabazios, Alex has a chance to be a hero, but only if he follows the right path. Moreover, picking the right people to trust has just become harder for Alex.
Published December 4, 2018, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Strange Days by Constantine J. Singer is his debut novel that combines young adult fiction with science fiction with an easily relatable protagonist.
A fascinating science fiction tale about an alien invasion. Invasion literature tends to follow the same formula, but then there are those that break away from the formula. Strange Days is one such novel. Strange Days by Constantine J. Singer almost resembles Kevin J. Anderson’s V series, just the main two, not the others that branched off the 80s television series. However, even while there are similarities, Singer’s work continues to be unique. The first hint of this uniqueness does not lie in the storytelling but rather in the characterization.
Alex does not believe any of the alien abductions, not really. He might believe that people go missing but not about aliens, focusing too much on his problems, on the music in this head that blinds him and distracts him. That is until the aliens come for him, killing his family and sending him on the run. Alex’s world has been turned upside down, everything he thought he knew, everyone Alex thought he could trust, has been flipped over, thrusting him into this new world of danger and science fiction. However, Alex, he does not just go along with it. Instead, Alex questions it all as he struggles with it for a large part of the novel, trying to make sense of everything. Alex is a unique character because while he is the hero, he’s not the “reluctant hero” or the “knight in shining armor”, he’s just a kid who is trying to do the right thing based on his history, based on what people tell him, allowing him to seek out the right versus the wrong. Alex is relatable because of this, and his narrative makes him more human. He does not fit into any clichés found in literature; he stands out all on his own. He has fears and hopes and dreams, he is conflicted and questions the world around him. Alex is a scared kid who wants to keep the people he cares about safe, shelving his fear and finding his strength when he needs it the most. Singer made sure to make sure this narrative was clear and relatable to the reader while also allowing incredible character growth. All of this combined makes the reader invested not just in Alex but in his journey as well.
The other element that makes this novel unique is the take on the alien invasion and the non-linear elements that mark essential sequences of the novel. It is hard to explain this without giving away, but Alex is a Witness, allowing him to be someone else and see a potential future. This opens many doors for him, to see the truth and the lies all around him. This creates terrific tension for the story and incredible twists and turns for the plot, each one unsuspecting. Each plot twist hits the reader like a train, catching them off guard and increasing the pace of the novel, further sucking the reader into the story.
Strange Days is an excellent story, especially for fans of invasion literature that has such a strong sense of realism to it and a fast pace that keeps the reader glued to the pages. (★★★★★ | A+)