Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Work From Pamela F. Service

Stinker From Space by Pamela F. Service (who really ought to consider getting herself a website) is remembered fondly here at Chez Gauthier. More recently Service has been writing a series called Alien Agent. I found one of the latest volumes on the new book shelf at one of my local libraries and sought out the first book in the series, My Cousin the Alien.

My Cousin the Alien is about a young boy whose cousin believes he's been placed on this planet by aliens. It sort of plays with the old situation of children who can't believe they're actually a true member of the family they find themselves in. (I used to fantasize about being, in reality, a Mafia princess.) Because of a parallel storyline involving a definite alien, we know that there is, indeed, an alien placed in a family on Earth and that he is in danger.

Some of the writing here is a little awkward, and the parents are definitely cliches. I figured out the twist in this story early on, but in this case, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Readers can enjoy feeling they know something the characters don't. This book (and presumably the series) is marketed toward middle grade readers, but I think it is most appropriate for kids on the young end of that range. It's well done for that age group because it has a real story line and doesn't lean on pointless, silly jokes. I'm surprised I haven't heard more about it.

Plot Project: I wouldn't say that this plot is built around giving its protagonist something to want and then throwing in obstacles to his getting it. It's more likely that the author had an end point in mind--the big reveal, say--and created what might be called some flashpoint scenes for the characters to experience before getting to it. That's all speculation, of course.

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