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David O. Russell is not a name you would expect to find in the young adult section of a bookstore. The writer/director behind movies like Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, Russell isn’t exactly known for his family-friendly adventures – quite the opposite, in fact. That being said, his new book, Alienated, just so happens to be a young adult adventure. It also happens to be pretty good.
Alienated tells the story of Gene Brennick and Vince Haskell, two boys that run a local homespun newspaper about aliens. While everyone makes fun of them and their fantastical, outlandish stories, Gene and Vince persist because while their stories may be kind of out there, they also happen to be entirely true.
Thanks to a washed up hippie cousin (who was possibly the original creator of Spider-Man), Gene and Vince’s little newspaper has the scoop on all the real aliens that live among us; aliens with names like Mold Man, Hover Boy, and Crumble Bum.
Things get complicated for the boys when they discover the nephew of the universe’s most feared alien warlord is working as a guidance counselor at a local school. One front page later, and their newspaper just might be the catalyst for an intergalactic armageddon.
Throw in the normal teenage angst associated with girls and social popularity, and you’ve got a wicked good time. The book is insanity, but it’s inspired insanity. Like most things that fall into such a category, it’s a ton of fun.
Russell’s partner on the book, Andrew Auseon, manages to write at a frantic pace while still keeping the plot neatly framed and easy to follow. His style could be called Douglas Adams-lite, and that’s a good thing. Alienated may be filed in the young adult section, but it has a story that will interest readers of any age. Russell and Auseon work great together, giving the book an unconventional and unique feel.
It’s probably only a matter of time before Alienated gets scooped up by the mainstream and turned into a movie or TV series. It’s fresh and exciting, funny and engaging, and completely worth a read.