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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall by Rae Knightly is the first book in The Alien Skill series. Nothing in Ben Archer's life is the same after the Cosmic Fall that occurred in the field next to his grandpa's house. He spent three weeks in bed with a fever before he was recovered enough to return to school, but his friends had already settled into their own groups and routine at school, making Ben feel like an outsider. His grandpa's been missing since that night and Ben is plagued by nightmares with no real memory of what happened. When his grandpa resurfaces after suffering a heart attack, Ben and his mother visit him at the hospital, only for him to give Ben a distressing message: to find Mesmo. Mesmo is the only survivor of the crash and the only one that can answer Ben's questions about what really happened that night. Meanwhile, the government discovers Ben's connection to the mysterious crash and is determined to uncover the truth about the UFO found in the field. Ben and his mother are forced to go on the run and turn to one of his grandpa's allies for help.
This is a delightful adventure that makes for the perfect introduction into science fiction for children of all ages. The story has a tone reminiscent of the Witch Mountain movies with the plot centered on aliens and the government after them with a child in the cross-hairs. The story blends mystery and suspense throughout as the plot builds toward Ben and his mom on the race of a lifetime as they flee from government agents. Rae Knightly delivers an exciting plot that finds conspiracy and action blended into a fast-paced adventure. The trauma and side effects that Ben goes through as a result of the crash are handled with care through his apprehension and anxiety. His stress following the UFO crash is blended with becoming an outsider at school and facing bullies, woven into his journey to find his footing and rediscover his place.
Knightly introduces an assortment of intriguing characters that Ben and his mom encounter from the government agents to the alien Mesmo who is still trying to understand human ways. The relationship between Ben and his mom is at the center of the story as they work to protect each other in an action-packed journey. This relationship is the driving force for the action and how they manage to stay a step ahead throughout the story. Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall is an exciting science fiction adventure that has aliens, action, and suspense, creating a fast-paced plot in an addictive read.