An unexpected new protagonist is introduced in this novel, as opposed to the original Tally Youngblood. This is set around three years after the previous book where Tally becomes a Special. It is also based in a futuristic area supposedly in Japan – I assume, as they talk in Japanese.
“They” is mainly Aya, a fifteen-year-old girl who is desperate to become famous. Like her older brother Hiro, Aya kicks all the coolest things, using footage from her personal hovercam to keep her feed updated. She gets mixed up with the Sly Girls when trying to film their tricks, which results in an amazing discovery.
This is set after the “mind-rain” when Tally brought attention to the bubbleheadedness that cities bestowed upon their citizens. Since then, people have been going crazy – Tech Heads, Surge Monkeys, even NeoFoodies. In Aya’s home city, people can earn merits by completing good deeds or, more popularly, become a famous face. The city has learned to pick up when people mention your name, and if it got mentioned enough, you could become one of the Thousand Faces. However, most people – such as Aya – are stuck being Extras.
During the process of unravelling the mysteries of the “inhumans” that she sees, Aya drags Frizz, Hiro, Ren and even the Cutters into her world. They discover the plan of a different group of Extras – surged-up people who are preparing to make an orbital habitat for humankind.
I like Aya as a character, though her immature desperation for fame is somewhat annoying. Frizz and Hiro, although only secondary characters, are both very important in their own ways and also very interesting characters. Tally, however, seems surprisingly brutal and vicious in this novel.
Westerfeld has constantly used the appropriate (albeit fictional) slang throughout the book, again keeping you emerged in their world. I’m not sure about the second group of Extras having the same name as the first, though; I feel like Westerfeld just couldn’t be bothered to think of anything else. The title of the book, to me, should be based on the alien-like beings who cause so much confusion.
This was a very interesting addition to the series, rather different to the previous books. It maybe wasn’t crucial but wasn’t the worst fourth-in-series novel I’ve read. I think 3.5 stars is fair for this.