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Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews Conquest, the debut chapter in the young adult sci-fi post-alien invasion story Chronicles of the Invaders series from John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard, published by Headline Books in the UK. Expect this to hit shelves on 26 September.
“An excellent start to a promising new series, whilst the team of Connolly and Ridyard may not bring the most original story to the table, they certainly know how to deliver a fun, compelling read that should keep sci-fi fans entertained. This book is certainly worth checking out.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
The Earth has been invaded by the Illyri, a beautiful, civilized, yet ruthless alien race. Humanity has been conquered, but still it fights the invaders. The Resistance grows stronger, for it is the young people of Earth who are best equipped to battle the Illyri.
Syl Hellais, conceived among the stars, is the oldest alien child on Earth, the first to reach sixteen years of age. Her father rules the planet. Her future is assured. And Syl has hidden gifts, powers that even she does yet fully understand.
But all is not as it seems. The Illyri are at war among themselves, and the sinister Nairene Sisterhood has arrived on Earth, hungry for new blood. When Syl helps a pair of young Resistance fighters to escape execution, she finds herself sentenced to death, pursued by her own kind, and risks breaking the greatest taboo of her race by falling in love with a human.
Now the hunter has become the hunted, the predator become prey.
And as Syl is about to learn, the real invasion has not yet even begun…
I don’t really get to read that much young adult science fiction, particularly ones focusing on alien invasions nowadays, and it’s always something refreshing to read even though they may not be the most original. Conquest - is the latest tale to join these ranks, penned by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard, one of whom is an author I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now and the other I haven’t heard about before cracking this book open, and as I was reading it I expected something similar to the likes of The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. As it turns out, Conquest was a bit different to those two books, but was just as gripping – I was engrossed from the get go as the double pair of writers weaved a fantastic book that has me eagerly awaiting the sequel.
Described by Connolly as an “adventure novel”, Conquest clocks in at around 400 pages and spins an epic journey of gripping and enthralling science fiction goodness. If you’re a sci-fi fan, like I’m guessing that most Founding Fields readers will be - Conquest will be right up your street. I saw another reviewer describe this book as Star Trek meets Aliens but set on Earth and if that sounds like your type of thing then you should certainly give this one a go, because Conquest tells an enthralling if unoriginal story with all the confidence that a veteran author can bring, and it’s very hard to notice the narrative change if there is any between the two authors collaborating on this book as the pace moves along in a very steady way – not as fast as a thriller in the style of James Patterson and company, but it doesn’t allow itself to fall into the trap of info-dumping aside from the short prologue at the beginning which is merely designed to tell the background of the Illyri invasion, and rather than being dull and feeling boring, Connolly and Ridyard use this to increase the tension, raise the stakes right from the get go, clearly establishing just how powerful the Illyri are, and it pales in comparison to the humans. This was an interesting element and reminded me oddly of the recent Sci-Fi Western drama Defiance - in the way that it’s set after the alien invasion. However, the mainstray of the novel is actually very different to Defiance - and for once, outside of Doctor Who or Torchwood we get to see an alien invasion set in the UK as opposed to the USA.
Both lead characters, the male and female protagonists, are strong, likeable and rootable and they really carry the book. Syl Hellais is a rounded female lead, and there wasn’t an insta-love story instead romance is pushed to the sides in favour of a more progressive plot with very action packed and wonderfully described battle scenes that allow for an interesting narrative. All too often YA fiction is let down by a vast unnecessary amount of angst, and I’m pleased to say that Conquest is very much not angst-ridden, and is capable of telling a compelling and enthralling story that makes it really worth your time.
And did I mention how awesome the cover is? It doesn’t look like much, sure – but I’m a massive fan of it. It suggests an epic science fiction story focused on two main characters and that’s what you’re going to find yourself with. The book allows for a fun and unpredictable read that delivers on a lot of things. Whilst it lacks the strength to stand up with the likes of superb YA books such as the previously mentioned The Fifth Wave and The Hunger Games, Conquest is nonetheless an enthralling read that fans of Sci-Fi who don’t mind reading smart, clever YA books should give this a try. John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard have provided a nice opening to what I believe is their first novel written together, so it’ll be interesting to see how future Chronicles of the Invaders books develop. You can count me in for Book 2.