Too Many Interesting Things Are Happening to Ethan Fairmont, by Nick Brooks

I very much enjoyed meeting Ethan Fairmont and his friends, including the alien they call Cheese in his first outing (my review) so I dove into Too Many Interesting Things Are Happening to Ethan Fairmont, by Nick Brooks, (middle grade, November 2023, Union Square Kids), with pleasure, and was rewarded by a good read.

Ethan is happily planning interesting inventing and pleasant hanging out at the old industrial building now turned maker space where he met Cheese, and foiled the other hostile aliens hunting down Cheese and his people.  And he's happily looking forward to the start of sixth grade.  Less happily, he misses Cheese lots, and he and his family are still cooping from the trauma of the local police and the feds threatening the black community of Ferrous City and his family in particular.  And then school gets off to a rocky start, when a new girl, Fatima, threatens his self-worth with her own inventor smarts, and Ferrous City is experiencing a population boom that's raising real estate prices, and Ethan's parents, who are doing fine but aren't well off, are considering cashing in. On top of all this, the feds are back in town (and what are they up to?)

Turns out, though, that Fatima is just the new team member Ethan needs to re-establish communication with Cheese.  And Fatima is even more needed when the evil aliens renew hostilities....

It's not a comfort read; as the title suggests, too many interesting (and not very joyous) things are going on in Ethan's life.  But it's a gripping read, and a thought-provoking one, and I enjoyed it. The young characters are believable and very relatable, as is Ethan's growing maturity about teamwork and living in the moment instead of what if-ing, the tension builds at a nice pace, and the ending is satisfactory!  The social justice theme of the first book is here as well, as is an age-appropriate romance.  And of course a lovely alien friendship! 

If there is a third book, I'm there for it!

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