You open to the setting of a sleepy suburban town in the middle of nowhere right after a boy by the name of Ethan has died. The main character is Jason, a good kid with a rebellious streak because he is too bored with his life and wants to liven things up. Jason’s parents are practically Mr. and Mrs. American Dream which only adds to his frustration at how normal and boring his life is. From the beginning of the book you have a sense of foreboding that something awful/surprising is lurking just around the corner and you just know that something is about to change. Oh you know that feeling. Anyway of course the change occurs in the form of a mysterious gift from a mysterious janitor. Yup, that’s right a janitor. And what does Jason acquire from this janitor? If you guessed super powers then you are absolutely WRONG! No he gets a metal glove that shoots BB’s. Yup, that’s right BB’s. So yeah the change occurs and Jason finds himself missing his sleepy boring suburban life and it’s all so wonderfully cliché that I just drunk it all up.
Now, I didn’t have any real problems with this story, the characters or the writing. There were a few confusing parts, however. One example of this is a little blink and you miss it scene with Jason and his two friends. Jason has to a shot once a month for his whole life and he grew up thinking that everyone else had to get it too. However one of his friends who just moved to Billington from out of town doesn’t have to get it and hasn’t even heard of it. This scene is supposed to establish that yes these shots are isolated to only a few people in town but if you aren’t paying attention you could miss this little incident and not understand a key plot point which is actually what happened to me. After a while you do find out what is going on and everything gets back on track so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
The thing about Shusterman’s writing is that he is very adept at making the reader think. Even in the silly Dark Side of Nowhere you spent the entire book asking deep and insightful questions. Now, a much better example of this ability he has would be another one of his books called Unwind which I will get into at a later date, but still if you pick up this novel and read it through you will see what I mean. If you’re looking for a good book check The Dark Side of Nowhere out, or if it doesn’t appeal to you, read any other Shusterman novel. He is an awesome writer and you won’t be disappointed.