Kirkus Discoveries Book Review
The first volume in a science-fiction series about a young man who’s abducted by benevolent aliens, bio-engineered to superhuman levels and sent back to Earth years later to stop an alien invasion. When 19-year-old Jaden Marino stumbles on a downed spaceship, he instantly becomes the hunted prey of nefarious U.S. government agencies bent on confiscating the UFO—and eliminating any civilians who know about it. The alien machine not only protects Jaden from his pursuers but whisks him off to a distant planet where he makes friends with the aliens. They inject him with body-transforming nanotechnology and warn him of the evil Darclonians, who plan on using their own nanotechnology to conquer Earth. In Carter’s hyperkinetic narrative, Jaden is returned to Earth to use his enhanced knowledge and abilities to ferret out Darclonian infiltrators and rally the resistance of a world that doesn’t even know that it’s in danger.
Along the way, Jaden must contend with the many secret U.S. government agencies that want to capture or kill him, so the author gets to play up his hero’s underdog status. Carter also daringly makes Jaden almost unlikable: he’s misogynistic, homophobic, completely self-centered and hungry for fame (characters are forever dream-casting the Hollywood movies of their lives). In fact, Carter says that the book is intended to simulate the experience of watching a movie, adding that he believes it could become next Star Wars, Matrix or Star Trek series (and that he feels like George Lucas in the early ’70s). To Carter’s credit, his tale has many elements that would translate well to a big budget, special effects extravaganza. The book is a fast, engrossing read—the pace never lets up for an instant—but it could have used a close edit to tighten up the nearly 700 pages.
An interesting, ambitious and somewhat flawed opening chapter in a promising series full of science and action.