(2016) John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard, Headline, 8.99, pbk, 482pp, ISBN 978-1-472-20979-5
This is the third in the Chronicles of the Invaders series (other two being Conquest and Empire) following the exploits of the alien Syl and her human boyfriend Paul as they battle malign hive-mind parasites who want to take over the galaxy.
Those of you who have made it through the previous two instalments will know that thereís way more to it than that, though. Earth has been taken over by the alien Ilyri and Sylís the new governorís daughter. Paulís hooked up with the resistance, but the two get together somewhere near the end of the first book: Conquest. Potential for tension? Certainly, especially as Paul is at the centre of the struggle to rid Earth of the Illyri. Elsewhere the Ilyri themselves are under threat from the parasites who have taken over the Marque (a powerful religious sect) and are infiltrating the senior power brokers. The parasites want hosts for their deadly spores and are happy to destroy whole species to do so. Earth, inevitably, is next and the parasite-controlled Ilyri arrange for Earth to be consumed by parasites and spores, and left as a breeding ground for expansion across the galaxy. This would lead to the virtual eradication of humanity. The Illyri cannot really hold the parasites at bay, though, and they, too, are under threat. And thatís where the action of this third instalment begins.
Along the way Paul becomes a starship captain (at the tender age of 18) and Syl develops superpowers. Did I say this was a young adult (YA) series?
There is something very appealing about these stories. Theyíre clearly YA (despite what some of the dust jacket comments would have you believe) and the plot is all over the place (too much action, not enough focus), but it all comes together nicely at the end. Lots to keep the teens happy on the ride, too. It is easy to read without being simplistic or patronising and has plenty of action in its mix. Itís space opera SF which gives some licence to its unlikely improbabilities (Scottish kids successfully captaining Illyri starships with experienced Illyri adult crews? Seriously?), and it has a teen love story. Whatís not to like?
I wish, though, that it had focused on one conflict. I like parasite hive mind stories. I like chucking alien overlords off the Earth stories. I even like mad religious cults in their hubris thinking they can control the devil. I just donít think I can cope with them all in one story! Iím not sure the authors can, either, since they seem to lose interest in the occupied Earth plotline and leave it barely and unsatisfyingly resolved.
And I wish it had made more of the potential conflict between Syl and Paul. They come from different sides in the conflict initially set up in this series, and though their interests quickly coalesce there is still an unrealized potential for the strains of their differences to add depth to the storyline and the characters. Sylís way too human in her thinking and outlook to really convince as an alien. But I doubt these concerns will trouble the target audience. And older people should find these stories entertaining too. A lukewarm thumbs up from me.
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