It has been a long time since I have read any contemporary fiction where the target audience is people in their early teens and younger. That was something that I had to keep reminding myself of as I read the book Invasion: A C.H.A.O.S. Novel. This book aims to be a launching point for a series of books. The question is, does the book merit a place on the bookshelves of young readers?
Colt McAlister is a high school student who is the youngest brother in a large family. He’s a surfer dude who loves catching waves on the California coast. His entire life is turned upside down when his parents are killed in a head on collision with a drunk driver. Colt ends up in Arizona living with his Grandpa and starting life at a new school. As the plot unfolds, he becomes exposed to a conspiracy that aims to engulf the world in violence and war. His attempts to uncover the story behind the death of his parents plunges him headlong into a world of frightening creatures from other worlds and gadgets that would make James Bond jealous. Along the way he learns that the world he believed he knew only hid incredible worlds of heroes and villains that he thought only existed in comic books and video games.
- Lewis crafts some truly epic action sequences. The final battle in the book strikes a fine balance between following Colt as he fights for his life and pulling back and revealing the scope of the larger battle. The action sequences are exciting and easy to follow.
- The moments in the book where Colt is dealing with the loss of his parents are powerful and well written. Little things in the narrative will trigger memories in Colt about his parents and these scenes really help the reader feel the loss that Colt must feel.
- The creatures and gadgets that are introduced in the book are really great. In the sequence where Colt escapes from assassins on an Ultra Light (sort of a flying motorcycle) it is easy to get sucked in to the scene. I can imagine kids really loving these gadgets. I know when I was younger the idea of jet packs and flying motorcycles were ever present in my imagination.
What Was Weak
- The dialog. Often the conversations between the teenage characters seemed like it was an adult talking who was attempting to sound like a teen. I know it must be challenging trying to write convincing teen dialog, but the book falls short in this area.
- The love (I use that word lightly) story. It really felt tacked on and unnecessary. It was almost as if the thinking was that if they are teenagers they have to have a love interest. I don’t mind seeing Colt or Oz having a crush on a girl. That said, it needs to flow with the story. Colt’s crush seems tacked on and the dialog that surrounds this subplot is the weakest in the book. I’m sure this will be developed more in later books, but it needed to have more work put into it in this book.
I’ll be honest, when I tried to read this book as an adult, I thought it was pretty terrible. That was when I remembered that this book was written for kids. When I tried to read this book like a twelve year old boy I suddenly began to really enjoy it. The action, aliens, and gadgets became cool and the thought of a kid becoming a secret agent and keeping aliens from invading the world became a legitimate plot device. This is a book that I think kids, especially young boys, would thoroughly enjoy. Are there weaknesses? Yeah, but they are more than forgivable because in the end it’s a fun book that espouses good values and has a story that should spark the imagination of many kids and keep them glued to the pages of the book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”