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Daniel X: Watch the Skies


Daniel X: Watch the Skies

Although James Patterson’s Daniel X series is a bit out of my demographic reach, I must confess a certain fondness for it. One of my favorite episodes of the original run of “The Twilight Zone” was titled “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” which concerned rival groups of extraterrestrials, (almost) indistinguishable from earthlings, battling on Earth. The plot line of these novels is somewhat similar, but by no means identical. Daniel and his family are aliens, disguised as human beings, who protect the human race from all other terrestrials who seek to kill, eat, subjugate, and/or take over humanity and Earth in a number of different ways.

In the first installment, THE DANGEROUS DAYS OF DANIEL X, Daniel’s family was murdered (or maybe not), and he vowed revenge, using a numbered hit list of extraterrestrial monsters that his father had compiled. Daniel utilizes a ragtag bunch of folks of his own creation who he is able to materialize at will and infuse with a set of unique talents; he can also bring his family --- mother, father and sister --- back to life in a similar manner, although they occasionally pop up uninvited and on their own, despite the fact that they are still dead. This might seem a little hard to follow if you are over 25, but those who have grown up reading manga or watching anime (or even “The Fairly OddParents”) will have no trouble at all.

DANIEL X: WATCH THE SKIES continues the chronicle of Daniel’s efforts at eradication of the hostile extraterrestrials, one name on the list at a time, although he is not following them in numerical order. When he detects activity in the town of Holliswood, Daniel is ready to take on Number 5, who has a particularly insidious plan, which consists of mailing what are purported to be tins of caviar samples to all of the women in the city who eat the contents and thus become impregnated with monster larvae. Number 5 is also quite adept at mind control, and like a cybernetic surfer, he rides the electronic waves of televisions, computers and the like, while his minions attempt to satisfy their insatiable appetites with whatever food happens to be available, including the melted remains of human beings, household pets and what have you.

Patterson propels his story along quite handily, utilizing terse but descriptive sentences and short chapters. Once you start reading, it is difficult, if not impossible, to stop. The focus of the book is not so much on plot as on occurrence; Patterson and co-author Ned Rust do not spare the descriptive horses when chronicling the mayhem and gore that occur when an extraterrestrial collides with the insect humans.

Patterson has quite an idea here; given the number of potential adversaries for Daniel X, the series can run as long as he desires. There are also just enough unresolved and unanswered questions concerning Daniel’s background and his family to provide fodder for future resolutions and additional issues. With a third book already written and scheduled for release in 2010 --- DEMONS & DRUIDS, excerpted with the forthcoming WITCH & WIZARD at the conclusion of WATCH THE SKIES --- Patterson is well on his way to dominating the YA shelves in the same manner in which he has conquered the adult lists.

Reviewed by on July 27, 2009

Daniel X: Watch the Skies
by James Patterson and Ned Rust

  • Publication Date: June 15, 2010
  • Genres: Science Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316119695
  • ISBN-13: 9780316119696