Title: Supernice: Smile. Or Else.
Author: Petra Jacob
Date Added: June 11, 2020
Date Started: May 20, 2020
Date Finished: June 22, 2020
Reading Duration: 33 Days
Genre: Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)/Speculative Fiction, Young Adult (YA)
A funny and gripping story about a tyrannical alien invasion in a sleepy seaside town.
Chirpy YouTuber Nick and his cynical teenage daughter Natasha have their lives thrown into turmoil one afternoon when the walls start swallowing people. Over the next week, more and more are snatched away, until the announcement is made: Earth is under new management. Aliens have taken control and they’re not happy with how humans have been behaving.
The new leaders introduce a series of increasingly oppressive rules. Make a single mistake and you’ll be taken away – to be transformed into an upstanding member of the community.
An upstanding, smiling member of the community with a brain like mashed potato.
As their town, and the world, are thrown into chaos and the streets are filled with grinning automatons, Nick and Natasha each find their own way to deal with the horror. Nick becomes a YouTube celebrity, convincing the public to behave. Natasha joins a makeshift rebellion working out how to dodge the alien demands. Each wants the best for the other, but they end up on opposing sides in humanity’s most vital and bizarre battle.
Will they ever be united against the real enemy? Will the human race become the docile drones that the aliens want? Or is universal niceness an impossible and undesirable dream?
Supernice reveals the disparity between how the younger and older generations view and deal with an alien invasion, and the author showcases this early in Nick and Natasha, the father and daughter MCs whose perspectives the narrative bounces between. This isn’t to say neither of their viewpoints change/evolve, but it is fascinating to witness how easily some people are taken in for the benefits, while others, while afforded and seemingly offered some of the same, understand the deeper implications sooner and reject them despite the cost.
This is one of those stories where the bad happening seems almost good, similar to the sentiment of “we’re the virus” in response to the current global pandemic.
People are forced to be nice, which sounds wonderful until you realize people are forced to be nice, and just like it is in our reality, it will be the children who save us, a frankly terrible burden to put on them, which we should all be embarrassed about. However, if YA fiction has taught me anything it’s that the younger generation is more than up to the task.
Every single book I’ve read by this author is better than the last, which says a lot as Riddled With Senses was excellent as was Peddling Doomsday. Her take on current culture becomes more acerbic and accurate with each addition to her body of work, because what happens at the end is exactly what we’d see (and have seen) in the real world. The mindset of frightened people who either don’t know know or who have forgotten how to critically think as well as mob mentality would inevitably lead to this conclusion. There would also be profiteers, because nothing causes roaches to crawl out of the woodwork than a major disruption.