by Mark Walden
Simon & Schuster
2013 (U.S. edition)
Rocket paced and thrilling, Earthfall is a wild ride. Seasoned writer Mark Walden (H.I.V.E. series) has another surefire hit on his hands. I am not usually a fan of sci-fi, but soon I found myself immersed in Sam's world.
Aliens have invaded Earth and turned humans into mindless, speechless zombies who work as slaves building a giant structure for the aliens. They have no self-will and are completely controlled by the Mothership.
Sam has never met another human. He has been hiding mostly in the sewers for over a year. He comes up to find food, but stays out of sight during the day. Alien patrols guard the streets searching for any humans they may have missed, and Sam runs into an alien patrol and is wounded by a Hunter's tentacle.
Rescued by a girl his own age, Sam is taken underground back to her "camp." Sam slips into a coma for several days tended to by Rachel and Dr. Iain Stirling. When he finally comes around, the doctor tells Sam he has no idea how Sam survived. A Hunter's sting is deadly and Sam is the only human they know of who has survived one.
Sam meets the rest of the refugees, kids all about his own age: Liz, Nat, Kate, Adam, Jay and Rachel, of course. He also meets Robert Jackson, a military trainer who trains the kids in weaponry and fighting skills. Sam soon becomes his star pupil; he is smart, fast and deadly.
The kids wonder about Stirling. He is so secretive, telling them only that their facilities are located directly below a lab he used to work in before the aliens took over. A generator above them is actually a nuclear reactor that powers their building. Stirling keeps his research to himself, too, saying only that he is working on a way to defeat the aliens.
Readers will love Sam--he's brave yet sometimes doubts himself. As he trains and goes on missions, he becomes the driving force of the resistance. If aliens ever invade, readers will want to be Team Sam. I kept hoping for just a hint of romance between Sam and Rachel or a love triangle to include Jay, but then I realized this is a "Save the Earth from aliens" book, not a YA romance, although just a hint would have been nice. Maybe book two will deliver the shivers!
Highly, highly recommended for sci-fi and reluctant readers. Even readers who don't like sci-fi will like this book.
Grade 7-up. One "bad" word that prime time television uses on air -- "badxxx." I mean, the kids are fighting aliens, they have to be badxxx.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my school library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)