Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Constantine J. Singer’s science fiction debut, Strange Days!
If you didn’t know already, this has been one of my most anticipated releases of December ever since I heard about it in early 2018. The concept just really grabbed at me, and if you’re a fan of contemporary sci-fi (think Replica by Lauren Oliver, but more conspiratorial), then you definitely want to check this out!
Alex Mata is a regular low-key teen, but he starts hearing voices and guitars in his head, and his parents get murdered by the aliens that are only ~rumored~ to be real. Then, Alex is whisked on a journey to work for a corporation working to stop the impending alien invasion. Except for the part when secrets are revealed, conspiracies are unveiled, and Alex has landed himself in a huge mess. #oops
Super exciting. Honestly. But first I have a super awesome guest post for you from Constantine before we get to my review!
This guest post is seriously awesome and chilling and if you liked it even a little bit? You must check out Strange Days.
The First 5 Things You Should Do If Aliens Murder Your Parents
by Constantine J. Singer
Spread out on the kitchen floor and there’s blood and they’re not moving. I’d tell you I’m sorry, but there’s no time for sympathy, no time for tears. Stuff your fears back down in the crawlspaces of your brain. You have things to do and fear’ll only get in the way.
Hey, calm down. Breathe.
What do you do?
First, you gotta make sure it was aliens – it won’t do to enact alien-abduction-and-murder protocols if it was actually an accident involving a bagel knife, some loose marbles, and a little too much wine. Take a closer look. Do you see phaser burns? Bites with just a few too many teeth? A pool of slime?
Go look. I’ll wait.
You’re gonna have to get closer than that. I know it’s horrible, but your life is on the line.
OK, it’s aliens for sure? Then for God’s sake check and make sure they’re gone – it won’t do to have you moving on with this list while some ugly bug or tentacled menace lurks, clinging to the ceiling above the kitty-litter in the laundry room. Grab something to defend yourself and go check! A kitchen knife maybe, or a rolling pin.
Yes, I’m serious. You’ll be fine. I swear. GO!
No aliens left in the house? You’re sure? You checked the linen closet in the downstairs bathroom? The creepy coal-bin in the basement where your brother stuffed you when you were five? You checked everywhere?
Alright, then, we’ve got to establish the context. Are you living in The 5th Wave and there are aliens everywhere so people are gonna believe you if you tell them? Did you have conversations with other folks about the alien menace already today so it’s just a part of life? Was one of your parents Noah Wylie and you’re a character from Falling Skies?
No? No aliens on Earth? None at all in your timeline?
That’s not ideal. First time alien attacks are problematic.
Why? Because when it’s never happened before, nobody listens when hysterical teenagers spout off about aliens.
Sorry, I know that sucks for you.
Question: Have you been talking about hearing voices and guitars and stuff recently?
Have you been acting a little weird maybe?
No? Good. Maybe if you went to the cops they’d believe you about just coming home and finding them like this if you don’t mention aliens. They might still think you did it, though, and if you haven’t been sliding off the rails recently it’ll be harder to mount an insanity defence….
Yes, I know you didn’t do it, but you’ve got to convince them.
What about the rest of your family – any of them open-minded about aliens?
No? That’ll make it harder.
You didn’t happen to get a bus-ticket and a fistful of $20’s in the mail along with a letter from yourself telling you to run, did you?
Yes, I realize that’s a very specific question, but it’s important.
You didn’t? Nevermind why. You don’t have a voice in your head that’s telling you what to do, do you?
Do you have any money? A good friend who might hide you until you figure this stuff out?
Next, how did the alien get here? Is there an open portal? A spaceship in the back yard between the lemon trees? If you find how they got here you can follow them…
No, I’m not insane – it’d make a great story — revenge and interstellar adventure and –
I know this isn’t YA Sci-Fi, that this is your real life and those are your real parents, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good story.
So that’s a “no,” then?
Alright, so you’ve got nowhere to go, no money, and nobody would believe you if you told them the truth. And since you don’t want to go jetting off on an interstellar adventure, there’re only two choices left.
You’re not gonna like them.
Well, you can stay and wait for the police and try your luck with the system….
The other choice? That’s simple.
You can run.
This wasn’t just me, right?
That was freaking awesome and it gave me chills. If you enjoyed reading that, it’s only a tiny taste of what Strange Days is like. And if you didn’t enjoy it, well. I hope my review can convince you otherwise!
I have been so excited for Strange Days ever since I heard about it earlier this year, and it definitely did not disappoint!
Aliens and conspiracies and teens not knowing what they signed up for but oops what’s that? Oh, just gotta save the world. It was great and definitely did NOT disappoint with its adventure and interesting concept.
What I ultimately really loved about Strange Days was the sort of voice the main character Alex Mata had. Voice isn’t really the right word–but character. Personality. He wasn’t that cookie cutter YA male personality you see so often, but he was interesting and unique and represents a very different teen perspective than the usual privileged female main character. Alex isn’t super into school and he just wants to skateboard, and for a lot of teens, this is a reality and I hope they find a kindred spirit in Alex.
Plus, his slang was so on point. All of the “T’sup” moments were scarily accurate. Go Singer for knowing what teens talk like!
Not only was Alex unique in his struggles, but I ended up adoring the whole cast of diverse teens who worked for Sabazio and Witnessed the future. They were really dynamic and I would be sad if any died during the novel. *cough cough*
The concept was also just so cool and I love reading alien invasions and about aliens on Earth, and it just ended up as even cooler because of the conspiracy lueking behind the story (which I can’t reveal!).
I do think a bit of the time travel/send message to past you bits of the storyline were confusing, but I found by not focusing too hard on the nitty gritty that it made sense. But trying to understand the really detailed inside mechanics wasn’t going to happen, and also wouldn’t fit the standalone nature of this book.
Witnessing is a really unique concept, and I enjoyed how Singer framed it for the readers and made it part of the plot without making you have to understand the intricacies of it.
Plus, it made the adventuring of this story a total blast, and the emotions and feelings Alex has throughout this journey felt very on point.
So it was paced very well and I was completely sucked in during my time at Disney World. Yeah, you heard that right. I was at the “happiest place on Earth” and all I wanted to do was read my book. (At least the lines are long.)
I did like the romance and I thought they were paired really well, but wow I wish they had more time together. Their relationship felt very rushed in a way that isn’t bad rushed, just “oh my gosh we have no time and oh look never mind time has ended.”
It never really got far, and Singer, with the little page time he has for romance, manages to make it something I wished we had more of.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Strange Days and will definitely be looking out for more work from this author in the future! I would totally recommend if you like science fiction mixed with contemporary, alien invasions, cool main characters (who get the slang right), and teens who landed in tricky positions.
More About the Book
Alex finds himself led to the compound of tech guru Jeffrey Sabazios, the only public figure who stands firm in his belief that aliens are coming.
At Sabazios’ invitation, Alex becomes a “Witness”—one of a special group of teens gifted with an ability that could save the Earth: they can glide through time and witness futures. When a Witness sees a future it guarantees that it will happen the way it’s been seen, making their work humanity’s best hope for controlling what happens next and stopping the alien threat. Guided by Sabazios, befriended by his fellow time travelers, and maybe even falling in love, Alex begins to find a new home at the compound — until a rogue glide shows him the dangerous truth about his new situation.
Now in a race against time, Alex must make a terrible choice: save the people he loves or save the world instead.
Debut author Constantine Singer’s fresh-voiced protagonist leaps off the page in this captivating novel that weaves sci-fi and contemporary fiction.
More About the Author
Constantine Singer grew up in Seattle, then earned his BA from Earlham College and his Masters from Seattle University. He currently lives in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with his family, and teaches history at a high school in South LA. He is of the opinion that all foods are better eaten as a sandwich or a taco. This is his first novel.
Thank you so much to Penguin Teen for sending me an advance reader’s copy of Strange Days in exchange for an honest review! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour!
November 26 – Hello Jenny Reviews – Creative Instagram Picture
November 27 – Something of the Book – Review + Author Guest Post: Books you’d recommend to readers who want to get into Sci-Fi
November 28 – The Young Folks – Author Q&A
November 29 – Spinatale Reviews – Creative Instagram Picture
November 30 – Thrifty Bibliophile – Review
December 3 – Germ Magazine – Review
December 4 – The Fandom – Author Q&A
December 5 – Vicky Who Reads – Review + Strange Days Survival Guide: The First 5 Things You Should Do If Aliens Murder Your Parents
December 6 – Printed Alphabet – Creative Instagram Picture
December 7 – Goodbye Halcyon Days – Creative Instagram Picture