(Image from Barnes & Noble)
A common lament around my house is that I take reading recommendations from other people far more seriously than I do those that come from my own family members. While I always insist this is untrue, maybe I'm wrong. So, when my 11-year-old begged me to read the first book in his favorite series, I agreed. Usually I have to force him to sit down with a book, but the whole C.H.A.O.S. trilogy by Arizona author Jon S. Lewis kept him glued to the pages. Naturally, I was anxious to see what kind of story had that kind of power over my usually reluctant reader.
Invasion, the first book in the series, introduces our hero, 16-year-old Colt McAlister. The teen, who lives in San Diego, wants nothing more than to spend his summer riding the ocean waves, strumming his guitar, and flirting with a pretty girl. A car accident changes all that. With his parents dead, Colt moves to Chandler, Arizona, to live with his 85-year-old grandpa. Although grieving, the teen finds friends and starts to make an okay new life for himself.
When Colt receives a strange message insinuating that his parents' "accident" wasn't an accident at all, he's incensed. Especially when a follow-up meeting with its sender ends with him running for his life on a flying motorcycle. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to strange. As Colt investigates what really happened to his mom and dad, he's horrified to discover that nothing in his world is quite what it seems. He's confronted otherworldly creatures before—in comic books and video games—but never have they crawled off the pages to invade his real life. With murderous life forms straight out of his worst nightmares hot on his tail, Colt has to figure out what the heck is going on. Who are these aliens infiltrating the planet? What do they want? What crazy secrets did Colt's parents die trying to protect? Most importantly, how can Colt, a teenage surfer, stop an enemy with untold power from taking over the world?
Alien invasion books aren't really my cup of tea, but I can see why an 11-year-old boy would be mesmerized by this story. With scary monsters, cool sci fi gadgets, and plenty of action, Invasion definitely keeps your attention. It's a fast-paced, cinematic thrill ride that will especially appeal to pre-teen boys and reluctant readers. They won't care how far-fetched the plot or how unrealistically inept the bad guys—they will just eat up the adventure. I enjoyed Invasion enough to keep reading but, despite my son's badgering to read its sequels, I probably won't. Still, I recommend this one for kids who like sci fi adventure movies and action-packed comic books. They'll surely inhale the C.H.A.O.S. series, just like my son did.
(Readalikes: Reminds me of other sci fi thrillers, although no specific title is coming to mind. Suggestions?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for violence and brief, mild sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I borrowed my son's copy of Invasion. Thanks, bud!