Author: Mark Walden
Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US); June 7, 2012 (UK)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers (US); Bloombury (UK)
Source: Edelweiss DRC
Genre(s): Middle Grade Fiction, Middle Grade Science Fiction, Alien Invasion
I’ve been waiting for a good alien invasion story to hit the MG/YA/NA market for a while now. We’ve got our fair share of zombies and occasionally we get a bit of science fiction thrown in there but we don’t get a whole lot of alien invasion stories. This is kind of sad because I’ve been obsessed with the whole human resistance idea since I first saw the original V miniseries when I was about ten years old. I also watched Red Dawn a lot as a child so. There’s that influence, too.
When I heard about Earthfall, I was intrigued. World wide alien invasion, set in London, follows around a kid named Sam? Yeah. Okay, I was in. I’m vain enough to enjoy a good story with someone who has the same name as me.
Earthfall was a really fun, quick read for me. It’s solidly situated in the whole ‘middle grade’ area so you know you’re getting something that’s going to move pretty quickly. We pick up with Sam sometime after a strange alien invasion has caused everyone in the world to become mindless, subservient drones. He’s managed to survive on his own somehow despite the alien hunters and creatures that roam the streets. One scratch or bite from them is meant to be fatal but some how Sam’s managed to survive and now suddenly he’s being rescued by a ragtag team of kids his own age who’ve been holed up fighting the good fight. At first he’s just relieved to see other people but he very quickly takes initiative and realizes that he now has a way to finally fight back.
Together with the others and led by a scientist who may not be telling his kids the full truth they do their best to stay alive and come up with an offensive. But as the story progresses Sam starts to realize that he and the others might be more than just the lucky few who have avoided being turned into mindless drones and that there might be something else going on.
What I think I liked the most about Earthfall is what I like about most middle grade targeted books – it keeps going. It keeps you guessing. You never want to put it down because you want to know what happens next. The time that Sam spent alone must have been pretty boring because a whole lot sure happens in a short period of time once he meets up with the other survivors. Which is nice. I’m glad we picked up with Sam closer to when things started happening and most of our time with him was spent in a constant state of movement. The beginning of the book is a little flashback heavy and usually I’m not the biggest fan of that but it worked really well to establish Sam’s story pretty early on.
There was a little bit of a lack of character development in this book but I don’t think it was too distracting from the story. Sam is pretty much Sam; his friends are pretty much his friends. Not many of them are all that memorable – the adult characters are a bit more memorable and there are only a couple of them. I lost track of the other kids now and again. Except, of course, the sort of love interest whose one of the only female characters of note. And even then I still managed to get Kate and Rachel confused now and again. But, hey. It’s a middle grade book largely aimed at boys so I won’t really hold that against the book either.
Really, the only issues I have with the book are related to the Voidborn alien invaders – also called ‘The Threat’ by the kids. There wasn’t a whole lot of explanation about how the people of Earth who did fall victim to the brainlessness are still alive at all after like a year and a half. How are they taken care of and who does it? Things like that which kids maybe didn’t think about but I did. Granted, we didn’t actually get to see a lot of how the Voidborn operate in this book. You do discover their plan and how everything happened. But the actual logistics escape me.
I’m really looking forward to how that knowledge actually effects Sam in the next book and how the kids move on from the end of Earthfall. They’ve got a lot more to work with now and at least they all seem to know what’s going on. I’m not sure when it’s slated to release in the US. I think it’s scheduled for sometime next year in the UK so we might not see the sequel ourselves until 2015 though GoodReads seems to think we’ll see it in 2014 and the third book the next year. Only time will tell.
Earthfall is a great read – especially for middle schoolers who enjoy watching Falling Skies with their families. The author really hit it on the nail when he decided to take a shot at the lack of alien invasion stories that are out these days and he’s done a pretty good job with it. This will be a series to watch over the next couple of years. Especially considering how well the author’s previous series, H.I.V.E., seems to have been received. (I’ve never read it myself but it seem to be pretty popular.) Just know that if you’re an older reader it is a kids book so don’t come into it expecting too much.