Review

PUBLICATION DATE: JANUARY 4, 2011

C

olt McAllister was a typical sixteen year old leading a normal life until both his parents were killed in a car wreck.  Though it was officially ruled an accident the circumstances seemed a bit questionable.  The youngest of eight children, Colt had plenty of places he could live, but decided to move to Arizona to stay with his grandfather.  Soon after moving, he received a mysterious text message which led him to the discovery that his parents were murdered because of an article his mother was writing detailing deceptive practices at a major biotech company.  As Colt, lifelong friend Danielle, and new friend Oz dig deeper into his mother’s research, they uncover deep secrets that could save the planet from extraterrestrial invasion.  With a comic book backdrop, Invasion is a fun sci-fi thriller for both young and old.

Robert Liparulo’s Dreamhouse King series is one of my favorites.  It’s written for young adults, but the writing style is consistent with his adult novels.  I’ve grown to appreciate authors who do not ‘dumb down’ their books for a younger audience.  Reading Invasion, it feels as though Lewis took the same approach as Liparulo and decided to write in a way that has young adult appeal through the content and characters, but intelligent writing that is easy for both kids and adults to enjoy.

The opening chapters are strong and do a nice job of laying out the background for the rest of the series.  The reader gets a good idea of Colt’s character as well as the relationship he has with his family.  Additionally, with the early introduction of the clandestine military academy, there is a strong sense of how the book will progress as well as the fun that can be expected.  I enjoyed the extraterrestrial aspect and how it was worked into the story and thought there was a nice balance between keeping it realistic enough to hold interest, while still remaining imaginative.

My knowledge of comics is extremely limited, but I liked the use of the Phantom Flyer as a backdrop.  Its application reminded me of the movie Men In Black (which is a favorite).  Actually, there are several elements of Invasion that are reminiscent of MIB.  From clandestine agencies to high tech gadgets to memory erasing, there’s a descent amount of shared material used effectively throughout.

While I enjoyed the overall story, the sci-fi thriller, and suspense aspects, it was difficult to fully believe all the characters.  There was little background provided for Danielle, which made it hard to understand how she could accomplish the technological feats she pulled off.  Also, there was a potential conflict between Oz and Colt (that should have affected Colt emotionally), but was never developed.  Granted this storyline should be fleshed out in a later book, but from a character standpoint Colt’s lack of reaction seemed out of place.

Invasion is a nice start to the C.H.A.O.S. series.  It’s entertaining to read with a writing style that is appealing to a wide audience and suspense that is satisfying for adults.  Lewis does a nice job of leaving loose threads for future books to weave together.  While not a complete cliff hanger, the ending is very wide open and therefore rather unsatisfying—at least for those who are patience impaired.