Some of the very best science fiction novels I’ve read have been marketed for young adults. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a 13-or 14-year-old protagonist. You know it’s unlikely there’ll be any smoldering sex scenes or extravagant use of profanity. But otherwise there’s no reason to believe the story will be in any way inferior to other books in the genre. So, as I became steadily more deeply engrossed in the tale of 13-year-old Kevin McKenzie, I had high hopes for Transmission, the first book in the Invasion Chronicles by Morgan Rice. Sadly, it was not to be. This childish sci-fi novel began falling apart less than halfway through.
Transmission (Invasion Chronicles #1) by Morgan Rice (2018) 187 pages ★★☆☆☆
Why this sci-fi novel is childish
So, what’s wrong with Transmission? Three major, not to say insurmountable, problems:
- Precocious or not, it’s hardly believable that a 13-year-old could be as perceptive about adult behavior as Rice portrays him.
- It’s even more unlikely that adults in positions of power would defer so abjectly to Kevin. Yes, at several key junctures in the story, he bosses them around. People like the Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. If you believe that, maybe you deserve this novel.
- And then, to top it all off, the story descends into silliness as we learn more and more about the aliens whose transmissions only Kevin seems able to understand.
I only kept reading this book to the end because I hoped against hope that the first contact implied in the plot would be inventive. It’s not. It’s just silly.
For further reading
I’ve reviewed much better books about first contact with aliens, including:
- Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon—Alien encounters of the strange kind in a captivating sci-fi novel;
- Dawn (Xenogenesis Trilogy #1) by Octavia E. Butler—A science fiction novel that illuminates the human condition; and
- Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky—Accelerated evolution is the theme in a superior science fiction novel.
It’s also worth noting that several classic science fiction novels have probed the theme of first contact. Those include Carl Sagan’s Contact, Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendevous With Rama, and The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
For more good reading, check out:
- The five best First Contact novels
- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels;
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up); and
- The top 10 dystopian novels reviewed here (plus dozens of others).
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.