Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*They Came from Below* by Blake Nelson- young adult book review  
They Came from Below
by Blake Nelson
Ages 13+ 304 pages Tor Teen June 2007 Hardcover    

Emily and Reese are your average teenage girls, looking forward to their summer vacation at the beach. They aren’t aware that the U.S. Navy has ‘lost’ a nuclear missile, or that the missile is leaking radioactivity into the Atlantic Ocean. Even if they did know about it, Emily and Reese wouldn’t give it much thought. This summer, like other summers, is devoted to lounging on the sand, scarfing pizza, and scouting for cute guys.

They probably assume that next year’s graduation from high school will bring some changes to their lives, but there’s no way that Emily and Reese could have predicted that change will come much earlier, under the ordinary summer sun in South Point.

The excitement begins when Emily’s father, a marine biologist, is asked to have a look at a mysterious blob that washes up on shore. Despite the swarms of officials and even a Coast Guard helicopter on scene, the blob story doesn’t make the news. Life goes on, right?

Much to the girls’ disappointment, all the regulars are still in South Point – bullies Harold and Carl, arrogant cops Luke and Jimmy. They’re desperately hoping to meet some new boys, the not-from-around-here kind. Australian tourists Nick and Justin certainly qualify. But for real different kind, no one can match Steve and Dave, who claim to be just back from a study abroad program. They not only have trouble remembering how to speak English, they seem to have forgotten how to eat and walk, too.

Emily and Reese are smart girls. They’ve already figured out that sweet, weird Dave and Steve have a secret. It doesn’t take them long to determine that this secret is somehow connected to the blob on the beach, even before Emily’s dad is whisked away by government agents to an undisclosed location to aid in the investigation of the blob. And then Steve brings a dead kid back to life…

They Came from Below is a sci-fi / mystery / love / coming-of-age story unlike anything I’ve read before— and I mean that in a good way. Author Blake Nelson’s prose, written from the perspective of Emily, is lean yet evokes poetic images and magical landscapes. The environmental theme is delivered with a fairly light touch and yet it is unmistakable.

Humor abounds in this book, too, and runs the gamut from slapstick (any time Harold and Carl are driving getaway) to sublime:
“What do fish say?”
“They say, ‘I am here; where are you?’”
“What do birds say?”
“The same…”
A fun read on the one hand, They Came from Below is also one of those books that truly impacts readers with its message. Every character unfolds in layers, each one learning and teaching as the situation warrants. The twist at the end is both unexpected and inevitable, and few authors could have set it up so well. In short, Blake Nelson’s They Came from Below is one of the books I’ll recommend to everyone from teens through senior citizens, because it gives hope and comfort even as it calls us to action.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Deborah Adams/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (