Overview


A timely and thought-provoking environmental SF/fantasy for young adults

Seventeen-year-old Emily and her best friend Reese can’t wait for summer vacation on Cape Cod. Every year, it’s the same thing: high hopes that they will finally hook up with some cool guys…and it never happens. So it’s totally amazing when, out of nowhere, they meet two unbelievably adorable boys who are just too cute to be true! Which, they soon discover, may be the case. A lot of odd things happen when ...

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They Came From Below

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Overview


A timely and thought-provoking environmental SF/fantasy for young adults

Seventeen-year-old Emily and her best friend Reese can’t wait for summer vacation on Cape Cod. Every year, it’s the same thing: high hopes that they will finally hook up with some cool guys…and it never happens. So it’s totally amazing when, out of nowhere, they meet two unbelievably adorable boys who are just too cute to be true! Which, they soon discover, may be the case. A lot of odd things happen when Steve and Dave are around. Reese figures it’s because they’re not from around here. So where are they from, France? Well, not quite….

Summoned from the depths of the sea by the dire threat of global pollution, friendly aliens “Steve” and “Dave” have manifested themselves in human form and come ashore in a last desperate effort to save the oceans.


At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Initially, this novel reads like a spoof on B-grade science fiction with the introduction of some very improbable events. First, there is a nuclear explosion in the ocean. Then, an unidentifiable "blob" washes onto a Cape Cod beach and two strangers with odd mannerisms and ways of speaking suddenly appear in town. Yet it soon becomes clear that Nelson (Paranoid Park) has something more profound in mind than tracking an alien invasion. After 17-year-old Emily and her sidekick Reese befriend the two strangers-who go by "Steve" and "Dave" and claim to be linguistic students-they experience some strange phenomena, such as being able to sense what animals are thinking and having euphoric dreams ("It was like I was floating on air and the sun was superclose to me.... and I somehow knew everything was okay and everyone loved everyone and the Earth was the best place in the entire galaxy"). After witnessing the duo's remarkable healing powers, Emily suspects that there is something unearthly about them-suspicions that are confirmed when they reveal their true identities, histories and knowledge of the universe. Woven into the story are environmentalist themes and prophetic ideas that pack a punch and may inspire contemplation about the Earth's uncertain future. Offering wittiness, suspense and ideologies borrowed from Eastern religions, Nelson reaches a new level of depth and creativity with this intriguing depiction of one very weird summer. Ages 13-up.(July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Stephanie Guerra
Seventeen-year-old Emily is thrilled to be spending the summer with her scientist dad on Cape Cod. Her vacation starts on an odd note when a mysterious white blob washes up on the beach, drawing the attention of local scientists and police. But she soon loses herself in the hunt for guys and parties with her best friend Reese. When they meet Steve and Dave, handsome exchange students from Germany, the girls think they have found perfect boyfriends, but it soon becomes clear that something odd is going on: Steve and Dave are connected in some way to the blob on the beach and the increasing number of strange incidents around town. The truth about Steve and Dave is beyond the wildest leaps of Emily's imagination. In getting to know Steve and Dave and witnessing their communion with all forms of life, Emily sees the stark contrast between their lives and the way that humans live with antagonism and aggression toward the environment. Tight, fast-paced prose makes this book appear deceptively simple; in actuality, it is a deep and sad contemplation of humans' relationship with the world and other forms of life. Though Nelson never dives overtly into religion, there are distinctly mystical, quasi-Buddhist undertones to some of his statements about life, death, and human purpose. This would be a great literature tie-in for a unit on environmental studies.
VOYA - Kathleen Beck
Best friends Emily and Reese are looking forward to a normal summer on Cape Cod: the beach, pizza at Antonio's, and cute boys. But events beyond the horizon are about to hijack their plans. An American nuclear missile is accidentally lost in the deepest part of the ocean off the coast of Canada. The resulting radiation leak affects deep-sea creatures in unforeseen ways. Emily's scientist father is summoned to examine a mysterious, glowing blob that has washed up on the Cape. Steve and Dave appear, two oddly attractive boys with unusual mannerisms, awesome powers of healing, and a burning interest in the object. Who are they? Are they here to retrieve the blob? This science fiction novel is quirky, funny, and true to life among the summer colonists. It also has a deeper message that sneaks up on the reader. Steve and Dave embody concerns about ocean pollution and cavalier treatment of other species. They raise questions about immortality, acceptance of differences, and what humans value in each other. Characters who seem to be stereotypes upend expectations. Beach babes Emily and Reese, oafish Harold and Carl, and posers Luke and Jimmy grow in surprising ways. There are repetitious passages that would have benefited from more rigorous editing. The ending manages to be dramatic and anticlimactic at the same time; the novel is strong enough to do without such flourishes. On the whole, though, it is a fun and worthy offering with appeal beyond the usual SF crowd.
Nicole Avery
Summer on Cape Cod is the highlight of the year for Reese and Emily. The long-distance friends look forward to endless days of sun, surf, and finding the perfect summer boyfriend, but the disappearance of a nuclear missile off the East Coast starts a strange chain of events. From the mysterious blob that washes up on the beach to the two odd but gorgeous boys who have an urgent message for Emily's marine biologist father, the girls find out that this summer may be more than they could have imagined. Some far-fetched science fiction and a character's supernatural senses make for a few laughable moments. However, the environmental twist and cliffhanger ending set this novel apart from other teens-at-the-beach plots. Reviewer: Nicole Avery
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
In a wonderfully innovative deception, Nelson starts with a typical YA summer novel situation, and uses this framework to tell a morality tale about the largest questions faced by Earthlings. As in, will our planet survive the environmental hazards already causing destruction? Emily and Reese are summer friends, hanging out at the beach (Cape Cod), hoping to meet cute boys and have some fun. Emily's father is a semi-retired biological scientist, happy to have his daughter with him during the summer months. Two of the cute boys the girls meet are nearly as handsome as Brad Pitt, but the girls see very quickly these boys are different. They aren't quite human, really. Emily's father is very curious about them. They are able to heal injuries. They bring a kind of euphoric pleasure to those in their presence...and if a human touches them, well, that joy is even more profound. Emily and Reese and their crew of beach friends get involved with helping the strange strangers escape the police and FBI. "Steve" and "Dave" have a mission, and they enlist the help of their new friends, including Emily's father, to do what they have to do and return to where they came from—they came from below. The action is exciting and the myth-like creatures, Steve and Dave, leave everyone changed, looking at their world in a new light. And Reese? She may be changing the world even more profoundly. Smart, witty, and suspenseful.
Kirkus Reviews
On the hunt for temporary boyfriends, two giddy girls on summer vacation at Cape Cod get involved with aliens from the deep. Emily and Reese find themselves irresistibly attracted to Steve and Dave, and not just because of their movie-star looks. The boys have the ability to heal people with their mysterious connection to virtually every thinking organism on earth-a planet they'll be leaving soon as the earth becomes ever more polluted. Meanwhile, they're trying to rescue a fellow organism from the government with the help of Emily's scientist dad. Nelson chooses a simple but effectively flowing style as he digs beneath the surface of a frivolous summer beach caper to discover far deeper meanings in this appealing sci-fi fantasy. A patina of triviality hides danger and some compelling musings on humanity's connection to the earth and each other. Fun, interesting and perfectly pitched to many YA readers. (Science fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

2007 American Library Association “Best Books for Young Adults” Nominee

2007 VOYA Review Editor’s Choice Selection

2007 KLIATT Editors’ Choice: Best of the Year’s Hardcover YA Fiction

2008 New York Public Library “Best Books for the Teen Age” Selection

2009–2010 Pennsylvania School Library “Young Reader’s Choice” Nominee

“The action is exciting and the myth-like creatures, Steve and Dave, leave everyone changed. Smart, witty, and suspenseful.”—KLIATT, starred review

“This book is so exciting and funny that you only realize later that it is deep, sad, and scary.” —Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin

This book is so exciting and funny that you only realize later that it is deep, sad, and scary.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429996419
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,421,088
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • File size: 331 KB

Meet the Author

Blake Nelson

BLAKE NELSON is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for children and teens. They include Gender Blender, Prom Anonymous, Rock Star Superstar, and Girl. He divides his time between Portland, Oregon and New York City.
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Read an Excerpt


(Associated Press) Nova Scotia.   U.S. Navy officials confirmed today the loss of one of their prototype Baldwin “Hellfire” Missiles somewhere in the North Atlantic. 

The fully armed, nuclear missile/torpedo hybrid was mistakenly fired from the submarine USS Carlisle during a training mission off the coast of Nova Scotia.  It was lost at sea and has not been recovered.

Initial Navy reports indicated the missile did not detonate, but that it may be leaking radioactivity.

Because of it’s high cost and extraordinary destructive power, the Hellfire Missile remains one of the Navy’s most controversial weapons systems.

The U.S. Coast Guard and other armed services were to assist with recovery efforts.  By Saturday, however, the radioactive levels of the surface water were deemed too high to risk human exposure and the area was evacuated.

“We’re actually very lucky the missile was lost in such a deep part of the ocean,” observed one Navy spokesman.  “The environmental impact will be limited to those lower regions.  Hopefully fish and other wildlife that live near the surface will not be affected.”

Environmental groups have called the loss of a damaged nuclear weapon the worst environmental disaster ever in the North Atlantic.  Navy officials have refused comment.

One scientist on site at the Halifax Marine Institute was quoted as saying: “Tuna and White Fish from the area have shown only a slight rise in toxicity levels.  But I wouldn’t want to be down there where that missile is.  That will be a formidable hot zone.”

1-

“Cape Cod!  Oh my god!”  I murmured quietly to myself, staring out the airplane window.  Of course it wasn’t Cape Cod at all, it was just Boston harbor but I was so excited to get there I couldn’t help myself.  I couldn’t wait.  I had been trying to read my summer reading book, trying to do a crossword, but now I gave up on everything and just mashed my face against the little plastic window.

         Soon Boston’s downtown appeared beneath the airplane.  It was much bigger than Indianapolis.  It was much more complicated and tangled and just . . . older, I guess.  I could see a stadium.  Was it Fenway Park?  Probably.  There was a river that was brown and polluted looking.  The whole city was brown and grimy and smoggy in the June heat.  They were having a heat wave; I had been following it on the Weather Channel.  As we got closer you could see the highways leading in and out of it, like arteries going to a heart. 

         We landed with a thump.  I got off the plane and went downstairs and there was my dad at the baggage claim, looking tan and summery.  I love my dad.  It was so great to see him.  He gave me a big hug and we carried my stuff to the car.  Then, going out of town, we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts and got delicious Iced Lattes and crunchy plain donuts. 

         I was so psyched to be going back to The Cape.  My dad asked me about school and Indy and my mom, and we talked about everything.  It was so fun to be driving along, letting my head lean back and watching the sun and the highway race by.

         Then, after a couple hours, we got to the ocean.  It was late afternoon and you could see the water through the trees and the sky was blue and the beach was so white and clean.  We stopped at an overlook so I could do my ritual, which is:  I get out of the car, take off my regular shoes, throw them in the backseat and put on my flip flops . . . and the summer begins!

        

 

The first thing I did in South Point—after I unpacked and had a cheese sandwich with my dad—was run down the street to see Reese Ridgley.  Her parents were sitting on their front-porch in their beach clothes, having their five o’clock cocktails.  I said hi to them and asked them about their summer, but before they could answer I ran inside and up the stairs to Reese’s room.   She was there, folding her laundry.  The minute she saw me she dropped her clothes and ran to me and we both jumped up and down and hugged and then stood back and looked at each other.

         “Reese, oh my God!” I squealed.

         “Emily Dalton!  You’re finally here!” she squealed back.

         I, of course, lived in Indiana and she lived in Boston so during the year we never saw each other.  But now we were back in South Point for two whole months of fun in the sun—or whatever it was we did.  Reese was not a typical beach babe type.  She was kind of Goth and dressed in black a lot.  But I liked that about her.  She was 17, a year older than me, and an East Coast girl, a city girl.  When I told my friends in Indiana about her they thought she sounded like a freak.  But I thought she was awesome!

         After we calmed down, our first order of business was to walk into town and see who was around in terms of people our age and boys and the general scene.  Our first stop was The Rad Shack.  It was supposed to be a “serious” surf shop but it made most of it’s money selling joke T-shirts and trendy flip-flops.  We went in and looked around and I bought some sun-screen and a hat with orange flowers on it and Reese bought some sunglasses which looked very punk since she was already wearing black cutoffs and a DangerFactory T-shirt.

         After that, we went across the street to Antonio’s Meatball and Pizza Palace and ordered two “specials”—a slice and a coke for $2.99.  We flopped at a booth and breathed in the ocean air and the summer heat and watched a tourist family order different combinations of slices and cokes, (they could have just ordered three specials but they didn’t know how and spent twice as much money on the same thing). 

         Then Harold and Carl came in.  They were local boys who worked at a garage at the edge of town.  They had harassed us last summer, making fun of Reese mostly, calling her “Miss Scary” or “Hairy Scary” because she wore black and had really black hair on her arms.  But they didn’t say anything today.  Maybe they had grown up and matured a little.  Or maybe they just forgot who we were.  They flopped at the booth closest to the door and watched the people on the sidewalk.

         After Antonio’s we walked home along the beach.  It was so beautiful and relaxing, with the sun on the water and a soft breeze blowing and our toes curling in the sand.  Also, there seemed to be some cute guys around.  Reese was especially psyched about that.  She was determined to get some “boy action”, as she called it.  The summer before we had blown it in various ways, mostly by being too shy or chickening out.  But this year we were older and more mature and more determined.   Boys, adventures, falling in love—whatever was going to happen, we were ready!

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 17, 2008

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    Reviewed by Becca Boland for TeensReadToo.com

    Okay, I'm going to tell you the secret. The mystery to be solved, the secret to be unlocked. Ready? Here it is -- they came from below. <BR/><BR/>Every summer, Emily Dalton leaves Indianapolis to spend the summer with her scientist father on Cape Cod. She spends most of her time in South Point going to the beach, eating pizza, and meeting boys with her best friend, Reese. A week into the summer, they meet Steve and Dave, two of the cutest boys they have ever seen. They feel drawn to them in a way they have never felt before, almost like they are not human. <BR/><BR/>Strange things seem to happen wherever the two of them go. A boy falls off of a roof at a local party and breaks his neck, but after a couple of minutes with Steve and Dave, he walks away unharmed. Emily and Reese realize that these guys are not just tourists. They came from below, and they need to find their way back to the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, they cannot return to their home until they rescue their friend from a top-secret government facility, and they need Reese, Professor Dalton, and Emily to help them do it. <BR/><BR/>This book is smart and funny. Emily and Reese are like any teens you might meet on your summer vacation. They are interesting and quirky and fun. It is so easy to get wrapped up in their story of crushes and friendship that you might not realize what the book is truly about until you have finished it. It is also about close encounters of the third kind, but it is so much more than your typical sci-fi alien encounter book. The aliens look and act like humans, but their emotional range is much deeper than anything we can feel. They experience the world in a way that we cannot imagine. <BR/><BR/>THEY CAME FROM BELOW also looks at the way that we treat the Earth. In my opinion, this is the best kind of book; one that keeps your interest, has a great story, and delivers a message with a strong impact that does not get in the way. It is science fiction, but reads like contemporary fiction. Definitely worth picking up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2008

    They Came From Below by Blake Nelson

    Summers at South Point for Emily and Reese have been pretty much normal and uneventful- hanging out at Antonio's for the $2.99 pizza slice and drink combo, scoping out boys on the beach, and sleeping over at each other's houses. This summer though, things are starting to get a bit wonky- the weather is acting up, and two of the hottest boys ever have arrived, but are they boyfriend material or something else entirely¿? In Blake Nelson's debut in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, though he's written many other realistic teen novels, it feels as if he's been doing this genre forever. The suspense in this book keeps the pages turning, and it becomes a great adventure. Filled with humorous moments, hot guys, and a subtle hint of appreciation for the Earth's environment, this is one amazing book.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    A reviewer

    Seventeen year old Emily and her best friend Reese have one thing on their mind (and other parts of their bodies), finding boyfriends for the summer at Cape Cod. However, their vacation starts with a strange twist as Emily finds a white blob on the beach. However, the authorities take it away so Emily gets back to the prime directive of finding a boyfriend.------------- Emily and Reese meet handsome German exchange students Steve and Dave they know they have found their boyfriends. However, the male teens, who have the ability to heal people and communicate with any living organism, are leaving the planet shortly due to the levels of pollution harming them. First they must rescue a fellow ET captured by the government, followed by heroes¿ kisses from the girls, and then finally depart.---------------- The fun in this young adult science fiction lies in the comparisons between the sets of teens. The American females have one goal: boyfriends the exchange students also have one goal: rescuing an ET (though hugs and kisses with the girls is a nice byproduct). Teens will enjoy this lighthearted romp as the two teenage girls believe they finally succeeded in obtaining boyfriends even if THEY CAME FROM BELOW. Emily and Reese understand the most wonderful summer of their lives.----------- Harriet Klausner

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