This Town Is Not All Right

Penguin Workshop. Aug. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593097144.
Gr 5 Up–It’s been one year since Beacon and Everleigh lost their brother in a swimming accident. Things weren’t great in LA, but being stuck in Driftwood Harbor is worse. First, the car breaks down, and then Beacon starts to imagine things. At least, everyone tells him he is imagining them. And then his jean-wearing, car-fixing sister is wearing makeup and a dress and being super nice. Something is definitely not right in this town. Trying to uncover the truth, Beacon and Arthur set out to gather evidence and track the personality changes that are happening around them. What exactly is in the vitamins that the school insists every student take? Why is everyone so nice all the time? And what’s with the local alien legend? Beacon is going to get to the bottom of all of this even if it kills him...and it might. This tale of science fiction is reminiscent of classic body-snatching, and could have been set in Stepford, CT, as easily as the small fishing town of Driftwood Harbor. What appears to be a simple case of chemical behavioral influence turns out to be much larger and more sinister. This creepy tale twists quickly before fizzling into the expected. By the end, most readers will know where the plot is heading long before the last page. Beacon and Arthur are the typical odd ducks with few friends. Everleigh begins as the tomboy and is turned into the perfect popular girl within a few pages only to be saved by the conclusion. Overall, the story falls flat and the momentum doesn’t hold.
VERDICT Only for science fiction fanatics.

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