“Why They Came” by Chris von Halle

When a problem appears in a story, there are two possible reader responses. Some readers will say to themselves, “Hey, that’s not right…” and then, when the author deals with it, they say, “That’s better. I saw that coming.” Other readers will see the author solving the problem, and they will say, “Oh, yeah. I should have thought of that.”

This is a good writing technique, because it means readers are actively involved with the story, and it improves their enjoyment of it.

This method is used several times in Why They Came. At key turning points, just as we’re about to note that the characters seem out of touch or naive, something gives us new information, former conflicts become trivial, and the world takes on a darker hue. Thus, as the book progresses, it becomes interesting to a wider audience.

Typical of Mr. von Halle’s Young Adult Horror stories, this one starts with the horror early, with an almost-execution and an exploding head in the first few pages. If you’re not a fan of flying blood and chunks of brain on the window, this book is not for you.

Also typical, this story revolves around young people dealing with the inexplicable things adults do, and as mentioned above, learning to be more adult about it as they go along.

The main character is a change from the usual downtrodden pre-teen. This guy has it pretty much together, a star athlete who is liked by his peers. The fact that he doesn’t save them from bullies is a source of private shame to him, which gives him credibility in the readers’ eyes. But he has enough problems with aliens and people with superpowers and the constantly expanding level of conflict that shakes him to the core. And of course, his parents would have to be involved, increasing our sympathy for him.

Add to this a very realistic young love story, and you have a decent read for young adults. It wouldn’t hurt their parents to try it either. There’s stuff in it to talk about.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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