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Red Handed (Teen Alien Huntress) Paperback – June 19, 2007
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About the Author
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than fifty novels and multiple series, including the spellbinding Otherworld Assassins, Alien Huntress, and Lords of the Underworld series, her wildly popular young adult novels—Firstlife and Alice in Zombieland—and the highly addictive Original Heartbreakers series. Visit her at GenaShowalter.com and Facebook.com/GenaShowalterFans.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Sometime in the near future...
Sometime in the near future...
I'd always loved the night, where anything could happen and everything usually did. The forbidden...the unexpected...the bad. Nothing seemed real in the ethereal light of the moon. Sins were easily forgiven. Why not play? everyone thought -- I had once thought. Why not enjoy?
At the moment, loud, gyrating music pounded through the darkness, vibrating with so much force the ground shook and the trees swayed. In the center of a forest clearing, my friends danced around a blazing fire, and in the flickering gold and shadows their hands were everywhere. Their mouths were kissing hungrily, their bodies moved to the rhythm of the rock, fast and erratic. Sexual.
Those who weren't dancing were lounging against the circling trees, drinking beer, laughing, and smoking Onadyn, or "Snow Angels," as we called the cigs -- the drug of choice for humans nowadays. It was a deoxygenating drug meant only for the aliens who had invaded our planet so many years ago. A deoxygenating drug that made humans, who needed oxygen to survive, feel as if they were soaring through the heavens, untouchable and invincible (if it didn't kill them).
"I should know," I muttered under my breath.
I'd flown for years before being forced into rehab. (Twice) I'd been too wasted to recall the first, but I remembered the second very well, the memory of it burned into my brain.
My mom had picked me up after school one day. Uncaring of her reaction, I'd smoked a Snow Angel just before she arrived. Not enough to pass out, but just enough to fragment my thoughts and emotions, making me loopy, disoriented, and a total pain in the ass.
Nothing could touch me when I was like that. Not anger, not fear, not sadness.
She'd known what I'd done the instant she spotted me -- the glassy eyes and blue lips always gave users away -- yelling in front of the other kids waiting for their parents, "Damn you, Phoenix! Is this how you put your life back together?"
Some of the kids around me snickered; some stared at me with disgust. Still uncaring, I didn't sit up, just continued to lounge on the steps. The sun was shining, bright and warm. Maybe I'd spend the rest of the day here.
"I asked you a question, young lady."
"And I didn't give you an answer," I'd replied with a laugh. "Now hush."
"Hush? Hush! You're ruining your life, you're ruining my life, and you don't even care!" She abandoned the car and stomped to me, scowling down at me. "I'm supposed to go to work, but I can't leave you alone like this. No telling what you'll do."
I laughed again. "You're a waitress. It's not like you make a difference in the world. And you know what else? Whatever I do is my business, not yours."
Hurt washed over her face, but she squared her chin. "Whether I make a difference or not, my job is what pays for your food and your shelter and your clothes." She grabbed my shoulders and shook me. "Your actions become my business when you steal my hard-earned money to buy the very drugs that are killing you. Your actions become my business when you run away to God knows where and I don't see you for days."
"Just, I don't know, shut up and go away or something. You're ruining my buzz." Dizzy, I tried to push her hands away but didn't have the strength. That, too, made me laugh.
She didn't reply for several strangled seconds, just stared at me as if I were a bottle of poison and she'd just digested the entire contents. Other parents had arrived, I realized, and watched us unabashedly.
My mom realized it, too, and wheeled around to face them. "What are you staring at?" she snapped. "Get your kids and go home."
"Your daughter is seriously disturbed," someone muttered.
"She's a menace," someone else, a man, said. "And if she ever comes near my child, I'll call the cops and have her locked away."
"Don't worry, Daddy," one of the more popular girls at the school said in a snotty voice. I couldn't recall her name, but I knew she was a straight-A student, an all-around goody-goody, and someone I despised because she always seemed so put together, as if the world were her own personal treasure chest. "I'd rather kill myself than go near her."
I pushed to my feet, wobbling as another wave of dizziness struck. I meant to approach her, realized I'd fall, so remained in place, saying instead, "You can fuck the hell off." With that, I gave her and her dad a double-birded salute. "Feel free to kill yourself like you promised. Or maybe call me and I'll come over and do it for you."
There was a gasp. An enraged snarl.
My mom dragged me into the car after that. I hadn't cared at the time, but she'd cried the entire way home and shipped me to rehab that very evening.
Once I'd sobered up, the memory had embarrassed and shamed me. Still did. I'd made my own mother feel worthless, and I'd laughed about it.
I didn't want to be that uncaring girl ever again. I kept thinking, What if, next time I use, I do something worse? What if, next time, I couldn't be forgiven -- by my mom or myself? I mean, a guy I met in rehab had later killed himself because he'd been humiliated by the things he'd done to support his habit.
I hadn't reached that point. And I won't.
I refused to fly anymore. Which was hard, now that I was back in school and surrounded by friends who flew every weekend. Harder still as I stood in that ethereal moonlight, the world around me beckoning with promises of numbness and invincibility.
Those promises had always been my downfall.
I just, I didn't fit in with the other kids at school. They saw me as the goody-goody had. Worthless, untrustworthy. Tainted. These were the only kids that accepted and understood me, so I didn't want to leave them.
Stay strong, Phoenix. Stay strong. As I sipped my beer, I leaned against the jagged bark of a tree. I'd arrived only a few minutes ago, parked in front of an abandoned warehouse like everyone else, and trekked through the forest. Late. As always. I had debated coming at all.
Now, as I studied the scene in front of me, I realized I shouldn't have come, no matter how much I missed my friends. No matter how alone I felt.
No matter how determined I thought my resolve to remain sober.
Plumes of white smoke wafted, like mist, almost like ghosts, enveloping the kids who were puffing Snow Angels. I bit my bottom lip. Oh, the temptation...months ago I would have joined them without thought. Would have inhaled the sweet, after-rain scent of the drug and soared through the stars.
A painful need to do just that washed through me. In seconds I could be giddy, invincible. Fly...fly...I could forget the way my dad had walked out on me and my mom two years ago; I could forget my mom's constant disappointment in me. I could even forget the little stresses of the day, where it didn't matter who liked me and who didn't.
"Phoenix!" a familiar voice called happily. "Thank God. You came, you sexy bitch."
I glanced to my left, following the direction of the words. My friend, Jamie Welsh, was approaching, her black curls bouncing on her shoulders. She smiled, her expression as happy as her tone. The firelight flickered over her heavily painted face and illuminated her black syn-leather dress and knee-high boots.
"I couldn't stay away," I admitted.
Jamie threw her arm around my shoulders and clinked our beers together. "You left Chateau Insano two weeks ago, but this is the first I've seen you outside of class. What's that about?"
Chateau Insano. Our name for rehab. It fit. I had gone crazy for a while, hitting the walls, screaming, destroying any piece of furniture -- or person -- I could get my hands on, all in an attempt to fight my way free.
"My mom's become my warden," I said, the words dripping with self-deprecation. "I spend most of my time at home now."
"Poor baby," she said, sympathetic. "Thank God you escaped tonight, though." She drained the rest of her beer and tossed the glass onto the ground. "It's gonna get freaky!"
I tapped my foot to the beat of the music, trying to cut off a groan. "Something going down?"
"Just the usual. You know, all the things our parents hate. As if they didn't do the same things when they were young."
I couldn't picture my mom doing anything wild, not now, not ever. She was so...starched. Not just her appearance: unwrinkled clothing and pale, slicked-back hair. But her personality. If she wasn't working, she was cleaning the house, not giving a single speck of dust time to settle. She never drank, never seemed to have a moment of relaxation.
Pacing, worrying, those were her favorite pastimes. Because of me, I thought, a little sad.
"Hey," Jamie said, drawing my attention. "You're all stiff. You, like, need to lighten up. Have you seen Allison Stone's brother? That'll help you for sure."
"No." I hadn't even known Allison had a brother. In fact, I'd thought Allison had moved away a year ago. "Allison's here?"
"Yeah, but forget Allison. Allison Smallison, we want to talk about her brother. He graduated a few years ago, before you moved here, then joined the military. The few, the proud, or some other shit," she said, rolling her eyes. "I don't think you two ever met."
"You'll hate yourself for that when you see him." As she spoke, Jamie withdrew a small, plastic vial from the hidden, zippered pouch on the side of her boot. Druggies always had ways to hide their stash. "I've kept an eye out for him all these years, but he rarely comes home. Until now," she added with a wicked smile. "He's finally here."
I almost groaned again when I spotted the vial. Onadyn, or "Breathless," the liquid form of the drug. Stronger than powder, more potent than pills. Ten thousand times better than Snow Angels. You didn't just fly to the stars with Breathless, you became one.
For a little while, at least, I reminded myself, but I was unable to tear my gaze from the vial. My hand shook with the desire to reach out and snatch it. I could drain it before Jamie even realized ... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Phoenix has been through rehab twice already and is trying to kick her addiction to Onadyn for good. Still she needs to see her friends sometimes, so she sneaks out to a party to meet up with them. There she meets the super hot Ryan who warns her to leave because some Outers are coming to attack the party. Phoenix doesn't listen (she has a real attitude problem) and instead hangs around. When the party is attacked by Sybilins (water sucking aliens, that will literally suck you dry) Phoenix stays and fights instead of leaving like she was told. Afterwards Ryan knocks her out and returns her home. Phoenix's mom thinks she's been using again and this time it is the last straw. Phoenix's mom signs her up to go to a new "hard-love" rehab school. Only the school isn't what it seems to be and Phoenix is learning about *way* more than how to kick her habit.
This was a fun read and action packed. The characters aren't the greatest ever created, but they are somewhat interesting and engaging. The world Showalter has created with multiple human races isn't gone into in any great depth, but promises to be interesting. For those who have read the adult Alien Huntress series (definitely not appropriate for younger readers because of being so heavy on the sex) you will recognize many of the teachers at the school; Mia is there as well as Le'Ace. I actually liked this book a lot better than the Adult Alien Huntress series, maybe because more page space is given to action and plot.
While Phoenix is definitely not a role-model for young adults, she does grow throughout the book and starts to become someone readers can admire as the plot progresses. The action scenes are well-written. For those who have read Vampire Academy and are intrigued by the teacher-student relationship between Rose and Dimitri, you will find something similar in this book. Ryan and Phoenix really hit it off, but as Ryan is one of Phoenix's teachers their relationship is (of course) forbidden. This adds some nice tension to the story.
Much of the story is spent with Phoenix learning her new skills and learning about Otherworlders. The story is engaging and a fast, fun read. I am looking forward to reading "Blacklisted" the second Teen Alien Huntress book.
RED HANDED (YA Alien Huntress #1), hmm.. think a younger sexier Men In Black. I was instantly drawn into this fully action loaded story, as we are introduced to Phoenix, our 17 year old heroin. Phoenix has had a tough go of it in her short life so far.. Her dad abandoned her and her mother, she turned to drugs, booze and sex, and now fresh out of her second stint in rehab, just as this troubled teen was starting to get her life back on track, her world is turned upside-down on her again.
This compelling read is full of strange alien creatures, great fight scenes, heart pounding forbidden romance and a fantastic start to a promising and different kind of paranormal/sci-fi series. The characters are colorful and believably written, with varying personalities; from humorous and snarky to up-tight and goodie good, but all amusing and entertaining. RED HANDED is definitely a page turner that is hard to put down and I am eager to start BLACKLISTED, the next book in the series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quick & Dirty: Fun story with engaging characters, awesome writing, and tons of action.Read more
She has been chosen. Phoenix Germaine has been trying her best to earn her mother's trust back after once again being put into rehab...Read more