REVIEW: Strange Days

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing me with a finished copy of the book to review.

I live by a strong motto when it comes to the books that I read and that is “Life’s too short for books you don’t like”. However, considering I received this debut novel in exchange for a review, I felt the need to push through and really give it a change to redeem itself.

Strange Days is a debut novel by Constantine Singer that follows Alex Mata as he fights to save the world from an alien invasion after being blamed for the murder of his parents (who were killed by said aliens).

When I first heard of this book it made me think Ready Player Go with a little bit of District 9 and a touch of Enders Game. I was expecting action packed scenes of a group of teens time traveling and saving people. Sadly, what I got was…nothing.

While the narrative voice is strong, I had a hard time relating to Alex or even any of the other characters. While the cast is wonderfully diverse, I had a problem with the way the one gay character was portrayed. To get into specifics, Paul is tubby, speaks in a feminine stereotype, and the subplot of his life comes across as more homophobic as Alex is 100% uncomfortable with it and then doesn’t understand why Paul gets upset.

The biggest issue for me, though, is that it doesn’t really go anywhere. Alex witnesses the same person’s future (rather than actual time travel) and we don’t really learn any new information from it. By the time I finished the book I was just waiting for it to get to the point which is unfortunate.

At the end, it really just feels like a book for 15-year-old boys who don’t read. And that’s not always a bad thing. Everyone should have a book for them and let’s be real this is a quick read despite being 400 pages long. I’m just not someone I think this book was directed towards. I do hope Constantine Singer keeps writing because, as I said, his narrative voice is strong. His plotting just needs to be a bit stronger.