I have a confession to make before I start this review; I completely forgot this novel was based on a movie while I was reading it. In fact, I first saw the cover in the book store before purchasing it online, and for some reason it completely slipped my mind that “movie” had been anywhere on the cover. I also have not seen the movie yet but after writing this review I plan to.
Before I continue my actual review, I think it’s also worth noting that this novel is set in the UK and the slang is appropriate for this region (I’ve heard it is probably Scotland – corrections welcomed in the comments section). Some people from other countries might not understand everything that is said (like “uppity bint”), but I think the combination of context and the popularity of the Harry Potter movies should alleviate any culture barriers.
This novel is all about the trials and tribulations of several people under 18 (ages are given but not exactly clear all the time) from about 10 to 17. The story takes place on earth after alien robots have invaded and placed the entire human race on house arrest. The plot follows the journey of one charismatic teen boy to find his father and hopefully stumble across a way to fight the alien robots.
Throughout the course of this novel, I was intensely frustrated by some of the main characters, but in my opinion this is a product of good writing rather than poor characterization. In fact, most of the main characters are kids, and I have to admit that most of them act like a real child would given some of the situations they are placed in. In particular I appreciated that some of the main characters, including one in particular that I liked were not immortal. People do die in this story.
As with many fun, simple reads, I have a hard time giving this book a score. On one hand, it was a page turner. I was interested in how the plot would end and I was intrigued by the villainous robots. On the other hand, the fact this is a movie adaptation is obvious in retrospect. Most of the navel gazing done by any character is in the head of our main human villain. By the end of the novel, the only character we’re really gotten to know very well is the bad guy which felt a little awkward. As a result of this, I never really felt connected to any of the “good guys” or invested in their survival.
Lastly, while the read itself was enjoyable and I was able to finish the entire book without getting bored in 6-7 hours, the ending was a terrible disappointment. It reminded me “Independence Day” in spades. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the implausibility of the human’s weapon against the robots in addition to how it was implemented made me roll my eyes several times.
I give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the read, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they devour books the way I do. Most people have a limited number of books they can read in a year and I’d prefer to recommend more meaningful titles to them.