07 July 2017

Graham and Land Pen a Stealth YA-SciFi-Romance-Thriller

The Rising - Heather Graham and Jon Land

Perhaps the most interesting thing about 18-year-old Alex Chin is that he’s blue-eyed and blonde, unlike his mainland Chinese parents. The official reason’s simple – he’s adopted. The real reason is a little more complicated…

…and that complication is the reason football star-slash-stone fox Alex and his tutor Sam (short for Samantha) are on the run, pursued by oily-smelling cyborgs and an ashy-gray something that just ain't quite real. Oh, yeah, and Alex has a protector guy that he never knew about with a super-neat weapon; a good thing since the pseudo-people chasing him murdered his parents and are heck-bent on taking him back. Somewhere.

Fortunately for Alex (if you can say “fortunately” about a freshly-orphaned teenager), with her dying breath his mom provided the key to his real back-story. Yup, Alex isn’t a normal red-blooded teenage boy (though his appraisal of Sam seems to suggest otherwise). Alex is – tada! an alien! He’s an alien who, his protector says, holds  the key to Earth’s survival; though just what that key might be and what it might unlock are complete mysteries. If you thought things were already complicated, an angry billionaire is also hunting for Alex, and as far as Langston Marsh is concerned, the only good alien is a dead alien – and his storm troopers are closing in.

Alex and Sam, however, are about to have a rip-roarin’ good time as they flee marauding aliens and a cadre of mercenaries – but have no fear, they’ll be fine.

They’ll be fine because 1) The Rising is a YA novel (albeit rather stealthy about it) and 2) if the kids don’t survive, authors Heather Graham and Jon Land won’t be able to attempt to spin the novel into a series. Not that it’s really worth it…

Now I’m not opposed to YA novels; I rather like them. I realize they’re supposed to appeal to people the age of my grandkids, and should be expected to touch on all the themes familiar to fans of Harry and Katniss. No doubt about it, the classic tropes about “coming of age under fire” and “recognizing her beauty once she takes off her glasses” figure prominently. Just as common these days, regardless of the target audience, is that “evil billionaire” plot thread Graham and Land shoehorn into the plot, presumably to make the kids’ flight even more perilous – it’s like the Fellowship being attacked simultaneously by Sauron and Saruman…

     Like I said, I’m OK with YA novels (see my multitudinous Pittacus Lore reviews). I’m not OK with sloppy pseudoscience – in an era when kids are pounded relentlessly with STEM, I suspect that rubbish like “It had been formed of subatomic, programmable particles based on nanotechnological principles” will make them retch like it did me - -both times it appeared. And then there’s the notion that a particle accelerator acts as a power source: “once activated, a particle accelerator of this size and magnitude [sic] would generate power on the millisecond level equal to that powering an entire city or even a state.” Geez, guys, instead of just throwing science-y words on the page, why not call the local university and ask for help?!

On a side note, it’s interesting that one author thinks the phrase is “honed in on,” while the other prefers “home in on” (for the record, it’s home…). Sloppy editing, I guess.

All in all, it’s just a YA thriller with a little young love (super-chaste – just one little kiss) and a heaping helping of pseudo-science. The thing is, in the Harry Potter stories kids know the fantastic stuff is magic. Here, they’re supposed to think it’s present-day Earth and all this stuff is based on real science and technology.

But it’s not, and that isn’t a good thing for The Rising – not at all.

copyright © 2015-2017 scmrak

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