James Patterson has jumped into the young adult arena with a series that features super-powered alien Daniel X, who battles an array of vile enemies. It's a little like Harry Potter meets X Men.
Read an excerpt of the book below and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.
It was a pretty regular early-summer night at 72 Little Lane. The crickets and katydids were making that soothing racket they do on warm, still, small-town evenings. The back porch light was on, but otherwise the tidy brown house was happily, sleepily dark.
At least it was until about eleven thirty, when the dark night in Holliswood became a whole lot darker.
It's hard to exactly translate the command that triggered it -- it couldn't be heard by human ears, and the language of insects isn't one that can easily be put into words anyhow -- but every six-legged creature in the area instantly hid under rocks, wedged into tree bark, or dug down into the dirt... and became very, very quiet.
And then, inside the small brown house, it became very, very loud.
Every speaker -- on the computers, on the cell phones, on the iPods, on the radios, on the telephones, on the brand-new Sony flat screen with THX surround sound and every other TV set in the house, even on the "intelligent" microwave -- began to blast a dance song from a popular old movie.
A song that just happened to be the favorite of a very powerful alien.
The boy fumbled for his clock radio. It was blaring some superlame old seventies song by one of those awful disco bands his mom sometimes played in the car. His sister must have changed the station and turned the volume up full blast as a prank. He'd get her back -- later, in the morning, when he'd had some sleep.
He punched the snooze button, but it didn't shut off. He flicked the switch on the side, but it didn't shut off. He picked up the clock from his bedside table and saw that it was just past eleven thirty. She was going to pay for this.
He reached down and pulled the cord out of the socket ... but it still didn't shut off.
"What the -- ?!" he said, and rubbed his eyes with his free hand.
The clock's glowing display now read, "DANCE."
And then the disco song started over, and a voice loud and screechy enough to cut through all the noise said: "DO THE DANCE!"
"Now that's freaky," said the boy, and just as he started to get really scared, a blue spark leaped out of the alarm clock and up his arm -- and he bolted out of his room.
He knew what he had to do.
In the hallway he collided with his father but didn't say a word. And now his mom and sister were pushing at him from behind, and the entire family tumbled down the front stairs to the living room.
It was weird, thought the boy, because he was pretty sure he hated dancing.
But now he couldn't stop himself. He strode to the center of the living room and somehow knew exactly what moves to make, and -- except for the look of terror in his eyes -- he boogied his heart out like a pimply, pajama-wearing John Travolta.
His mom, dad, and sister didn't look like they were having too much fun, either.
In fact, the only fun in the house was being had by the five grotesque alien beings filming the family from behind the eerie lights, high-tech microphones, and multilens video cameras set up in the adjoining dining room.
They were laughing their slimy heads off. Not literally, but if one of these horrific creatures had actually knocked its own block off, picked it up from the floor, and eaten it, the boy wouldn't have been surprised.
"By Antares, they're good," one of the monsters said, slapping one of its six scaly knees. "It's just like Saturday Night Fever!"
And then the fat one in charge -- cradling the bullhorn in his left tentacle, nearly crushing the cheap folding canvas chair with his weight -- replied with a sigh.
"Yes, it's almost a shame we have to terminate them."
The five aliens were still hungry even after their fresh kill. They scuttled and hovered out of the news van they'd swiped from the local TV station and pressed their ugly wet noses against the windows of the Holliswood Diner. A young waitress with wavy black hair was reading a Sherman Alexie paperback at the counter.
"Business is about to pick up a lot," said the boss alien, who had a thousand-pound intergalactic champion sumo wrestler's body and the head of a catfish. No ears, no neck, no legs -- and no manners.
He reached out to his personal assistant -- a big-nosed space ape -- grabbed its cell phone, and punched in a number. The three other henchbeasts twitched with anticipation. This was looking to turn into a pretty exciting Saturday night.
When the girl leaned across the counter to pick up the diner's phone, a little spark leaped out of the receiver, arcing straight into her ear. Her eyes turned glassy as she put down the phone and went to open the door for them. "What did the Zen Buddhist say to the hot-dog vendor?" asked the lead alien as the waitress showed them to their booths, already chuckling to himself at the coming punch line.
"Make me one with everything" said the girl, robotically.
The creatures burst into laughter.
"Actually, on second thought, sweetie," he added, "Why don't you go and make us everything with everything. Chop-chop!"
"Good one, boss!" said his assistant, stealthily snatching his cell phone back from where his employer had rested it on the table. He carefully wiped it down with a napkin before putting it back in his purple fanny pack.
The waitress, in the meantime, had flown into motion as if somebody had hit the 2 button on her remote control.
She prepared and delivered to the aliens heaping stacks of eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, coffee, Cokes, bagels, burgers, turkey platters, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, onion rings, cheesesteaks, cheesecakes, clam chowder, gravy fries, banana cream pies, root-beer floats, and chicken-fried steaks. And several mugs of fryer oil.
"Careful or you'll burn her out, boss," advised one of the henchbeasts.
"Like I care," said the boss. "We got about six billion of them to get rid of. And, come to think of it," he said with a laugh that sounded like somebody blowing bubbles in turkey gravy, "there are plenty more where you came from too."
And, with that, he grabbed the henchbeast and pummeled it against the linoleum floor. The sound that filled the diner was like a roach getting crushed by a hard-soled shoe -- only much louder.