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"Why was I dragged into this bizarre mess?" Kyon, a dry-witted sad sack of a high school student narrates this off-kilter but fun novel, published in Japan in 2003. The teenager's existence is thrown into turmoil when a new student, Haruhi, appears in his homeroom and makes a startling introduction: "I have no interest in ordinary humans. If there are any aliens, time travelers, sliders, or espers here, come join me." Though she initially rebuffs him (and the rest of the student body), Haruhi eventually decides that forming a club with Kyon-the SOS Brigade, dedicated to "searching for the mysteries of the world"-is the best way to break through the dullness that surrounds her. The story begins sluggishly, but takes off as the true identities of the other club members-an alien, a time traveler, an esper (psychic)-are revealed. Each is gravely concerned that Haruhi, unknowingly, has the power to destroy the world on a whim. Readers may be occasionally weirded out-Haruhi repeatedly force-strips a club member-but those who get into Kyon's woe-is-me narration will be entertained. Ages 15-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.