Brains are sizzling in the seventh grade. The first day of seventh grade was probably the worst day of Duncan Dougal's life. he knows that things are really bad when he finds and alien's hand in a dumpster and then gets plugged into an alien brain frier! Can Duncan find out which of the four new teachers in his school is an alien before his brains get fried to a pulp - or before the aliens try to fry the whole planet?
This sequel to Bruce Coville's popular My Teacher is an Alien reunites us with Susan Simmons, the protagonist and narrator of the first book, Peter Thompson, her brainy science fiction-loving friend, and Duncan Dougal, class bully and somewhat questionable ally in the previous adventure involving the kids' sixth grade teacher being replaced by a big green alien in disguise. Duncan was an important yet secondary character in the first book, but he takes center stage in My Teacher Fried My Brain. The story itself isn't as exciting as that of its predecessor, but I love the angle that Coville took in returning to this world of adventure. There is a definite psychological component to this story, one providing insight into why Duncan behaves in such a disruptive matter - there is a real, pretty nice person in there just dying to get out. Duncan now becomes a sympathetic character from the very first page, as we get a good look at his home life and see how this translates into his own behavior around other kids. It bothers Duncan to no end to be unable to control his mouth and (sometimes) fists; even when he is doing something stupid that will just get him into trouble, he is inwardly berating himself as he is doing it. The one thing that Duncan hates more than anything in the world is to be laughed at; this is a feeling all children as well as adults know a little something about, making Duncan a character that anyone can connect to in some way.
The kids are now in seventh grade, and Duncan's first day in a new school building is a rough one; as always, he finds trouble, and this time trouble reaches back and finds him as well. He makes a startling discovery - a discarded human hand which, upon closer inspection, turns out to be a fake human hand. That can only mean one thing: there is another alien at the school. Like Susan in the first book, Duncan does not know what to do. He knows no one will believe him, not even his classmates; you would think the adults in town might be of some help, but they have all started pretending that the alien business of last spring didn't actually happen. Duncan soon thinks he has found the answer to his problems. After taking part in a demonstration of static electricity, one in which a machine zapped his brain, he began to feel smarter all of a sudden; he soon decides to sneak in to the lab and give himself additional brain-frying treatments. Despite all of his new-found intelligence, though, he has little success in figuring out who the other alien in school is. The ensuing action is not bad, plus we meet a memorable and mysterious alien pet called a poot, but a few aspects of this story resemble pretty closely the strange events chronicled in Coville's previous book, My Teacher is an Alien. The manner of Peter's "return" is especially weak, in my opinion.
If you want to read this book, I definitely encourage you to buy all four books in the series. My Teacher Fried My Brain has a cliffhanger kind of ending that leaves a great deal unresolved. It's a fun ride with great friends, though, so most young people who read this book will surely want to dive right in to My Teacher Glows in the Dark to see what happens next