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And the Roswell High Saga Continues....

Roswell High Book Four: The Watcher by Melinda Metz

In the past, when Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Isabel, and Alex faced a conflict together, it was external. First, it was Liz getting shot and Valenti's investigation into possible aliens in Roswell. Then, Nikolas came to town, bringing with him his own danger and yet another threat from the Sheriff. Third came Maria's psychic abilities and the alien bounty hunters who were drawn to her because of her use of the powerful, alien ring. But in The Watcher Metz has the six friends confront an internal conflict - one that proves, despite their powers, the aliens are just as vulnerable as the humans, one that they don't have control over. Max is sick. He begins his akino - an alien rite of passage during which he should be able to connect to his people's collective consciousness. Usually, this is a joyous, landmark occasion, only Max is earthbound, and the only way he can survive the changes occurring within his body is to locate and use crystals last seen on the alien's missing ship, a ship very much in the hands of Valenti and Project Clean Slate. With months, weeks, maybe even just days left, Max quickly deteriorates, and, although the whole group bands together, their efforts might just be in vain.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of The Watcher is the fact that, of all the books in the Roswell High Series thus far, this novel presents the aliens at their most human. It's an interesting juxtaposition, too, in light of the fact that, as the series progresses, the aliens learn more and more about themselves and their history. Their powers are expanding, but, in The Watcher, their powers - at least for Max - become irrelevant in the face of illness. His experiences while going through his akino prove that, physiologically different or not, emotionally Max is just like any other teenager his age. Faced with what is potentially a terminal illness, he fears death, worries about those he will leave behind, and strives to do whatever he can to protect those he loves and, in turn, protect himself as well. Once more, despite the fact that the series is firmly rooted in science fiction... or maybe because of it, Metz proves that, underneath all the powers, and crystals, and spaceships, the extraterrestrials in her books are just as human as her readers, keeping the novels accessible for all. An added bonus to The Watcher is the fact that, for the first time since the debut novel, The Outsider, Metz focuses the story on Max and Liz as a couple: the emotional lynchpin of the group and the heart of the entire series. Plus, just like with the other books, The Watcher, too, ends with a cliffhanger, roping readers back in for the fifth installment in the series: The Intruder.

4 out of 5 Stars
Roswell High Book Three: The Seeker by Melinda Metz

At the end of the second novel, Maria found a ring at the mall while running from Valenti. Despite the tense nature of the situation, she was so drawn to the unusual stone set in the ring that she still stopped long enough to pick it up. It was pretty, unique, and, for Maria, that's a powerful combination. The very next day, weird things started to happen. She saw inside of her cat's mind, healed her cat's cut paw, and thought she saw her new ring glow. But those things were preposterous. Maybe she was friends with aliens, but she didn't have powers of her own. Despite trying to think rationally, though - like Liz, soon Maria, after discovering she had the capabilities to send her consciousness to find people, had too much evidence in support her amazing conclusion to deny the truth any longer: she had psychic abilities. The revelation was seductive for Maria. While it was one thing to be one of the alien's human friends, it was a different story to crush on Michael from afar and fear that he couldn't love her because she wasn't his equal. So, even in the face of some terrifying repercussions from using her powers - black outs and temporary paralysis, Maria continued to use her powers more and more, eventually targeting Valenti with the goal of locating the alien's long-missing spaceship.

In this third novel of the series, Metz presents an interesting dynamic into the group's friendship: that of inferiority on behalf of the human's. While Alex felt a degree of this in comparison to Nikolas, his insecurities never manifested themselves into real danger for his safety, his health. It was because of Maria's need to be special for Michael that she pushed herself so far, nearly resulting in irreversible consequences, and it is safe to say that this is a compelling and totally understandable theme that will probably be revisited by Liz, Alex, and Maria in subsequent works in the series. At the same time, The Seeker also revealed a flaw in the series. Though not the most pressing danger in the book, the intimidating presence of Valenti still loomed in the background of the story. Despite The Seeker being the third novel in the series, though, Valenti's character has yet to be expanded upon, fleshed out. He's still this one-sided villain who has yet to receive his own voice. He does all these horrible things to the teenagers and comes across as cold and unfeeling... even towards his own son, yet the audience has yet to learn what motivates his single-minded quest to eradicate the earth of all extraterrestrial lifeforms. In order for both the character of Valenti and the struggle between him and the teens to be as gripping as it should be, the readers need to learn more about the Sheriff. If this does not happen in an upcoming book, then the entire series will suffer.

3 out of 5 Stars

Roswell High Book Two: The Wild One by Melinda Metz

Just as the first book in the series painted the lead alien, Max, as an outsider, Book Two also presented another extraterrestrial in a very familiar role: that of the rebel without a cause. Nikolas is new to Roswell. Mysterious, good-looking, and dangerous, Isabel is drawn to him, partly because of attraction and partly because he knows things he shouldn't. He's aware of her dreamwalking abilities, and he, too, holds their memories from their home planet. It turns out that Nikolas is also an alien, only he didn't stick around Roswell after he came out of his pod earlier than the other three. Now that he's back, though, he lives his life differently than Max, Michael, and Isabel. He views humans as a weaker life form – mere insects for him to squash. Nikolas does what he wants, whatever he wants, and he does not concern himself with the consequences. In classic high school fashion, Isabel quickly falls for Nikolas' bad-boy ways, giving in to his peer-pressure and alienating the rest of her friends and family.

Perhaps what Metz does best in her books is introduce her audience to science fiction in a way that readers can relate to. The characters, though they possess special powers, just seem like regular teenagers most of the time. Though there are auras, mental connections, and the aliens are able to manipulate molecules with their minds, the science is tempered by the emotions the characters feel and the relationships they share with one another. For a reader who has never tried science fiction before, The Roswell High Series would be an excellent place to start. Additionally, Metz also includes real consequences; by the time The Wild One concludes, it has become evident that the aliens, though an advanced species, are by no means indestructible. Plus, for good measure, Metz tosses a surprise revelation into the very last sentence of the book, a great way to intrigue readers into returning for the third piece in the series. Although the book could have benefited from more focus being placed upon its leads, Max and Liz, for a novel with less than 200 pages, quite a lot happened in this relatively short work.

3 out of 5 Stars


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