by David Oppegaard
Review by Harriet Klausner
St. Martin's Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312381110
Date: 08 December 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
When Tyler Mayfield accepted a position as an English teacher at Wormwood High School, he and his wife Anna relocated from their home state of Nebraska to the town in the Great Basin Desert town Nevada. Tyler's Aunt Bernie is a resident so he knows he and his spouse will not be alone in the isolated town over sixty miles from Silverton with nothing but desert and one highway in between; although they have never met before.
On the second day of the tedious drive Tyler almost crashes because he thought he saw something in the back seat; when he stopped the vehicle he looked but nothing is there. After meeting Aunt Bernie, Tyler continues to see odd beings he assumes are aliens although Anna never seems to notice them. Instead she struggles with a sudden rash of nightmares that the end of the world has begun.
Soon after their arrival, a meteorite crashes into the parking lot of the local gin joint; the owner moves into the hole holding a sign that "The End Is Near". Worried he may be losing his mind, Tyler tells his aunt about the aliens he sees that Anna never notices. Bernie introduces him to a local astronomy club who insist the aliens are here marking the end of the world as we know it and the birthing of a new world in its place.
Anna suffers with her recurring nightmares that the end is now; which could be depression that she no longer could win a beauty contest as those days as Miss Nebraska are long gone. On the other hand Tyler fears he is losing his mind, which he associates with never having closure when his older brother vanished years ago; (a thread that is never followed up on and remains dangling). He keeps seeing aliens that Anna never sees. His Aunt Bernie is neutral about what he sees, but takes him to those who believe.
However, neither character alone can hold the story line together and do not quite converge as a team working together. Instead the isolation of the town serves as the focus for the plot as stark loneliness symbolizes the distance in space even with the Internet shrinking the world and a highway passing through. Thus the setting makes for an eerie sense of doom.
The story line is a clever exciting science fiction thriller in which meth labs meet space invaders. Fast-paced from Tyler's first sighting and never slowing down until the final climax, Wormwood, Nevada is an engaging aptly titled tale as the aliens are coming, the aliens are coming. Although the anticipated Big Bang ending proves to be a disappointing small crunch, fans will enjoy this entertaining tale.