Slave Harvest by Andrew Butcher
|Slave Harvest by Andrew Butcher|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: In a world without adults the teenage remnants of humanity must start the fight-back against the conquering alien forces. A slightly plodding teen read, but not without interest.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 384||Date: December 2007|
England, about now. A terrible plague-like disease has killed off anyone over the age of eighteen. The gang of mismatched youths we are focussing on here have got together, fallen apart, made up, made out, and have fetched up in a public school out in the sticks. When down past the trees that form those sticks comes just one of a vast flotilla of alien spacecraft.
It is these aliens (humanoid, speaking perfect English - how handy) that caused The Sickness as it is known, and with that in mind the reader is a lot smarter than the small troop of heroic teens that go to meet with the aliens - but to their defence they don't know what the name of the book they're in is called.
They don't get far with dialogue before they are captured and processed for selection as slaves. However they escape, but have to return, go back, to and fro and so on and so forth until the book almost plods its way to an albeit lively battle.
That is not to say that the ups and downs of the plot are not without interest. There is just a sense of things going on too long, and for my taste there were too many instances of things being interrupted by the teens' social lives. Antagonisms they endure were formed in the first book of this trilogy, and are never fully recapped here, but would never be fully entertaining anyway. They remain a moderately interesting bunch of teens, though - some more self-aware, some self-loathing, with varying degrees of heroism and so on.
If the first book in this series was a fight for survival in a plague-infested nightmare, the more hi-tech elements of a holocaust are here to make this book very much different, but while some of the genre elements are quite successfully done there are a lot of poorer features. There is a huge clunking noise when page 257 arrives, and turns out to be a treat-teens-better diatribe. Other pages are preaching about sexual life lessons (if the world has to be repopulated in the third book you could do worse than rely on the characters here to make a start at that), metaphors about the human slave trade, lessons in acceptance and so on.
(More successful, I will concede, is how quickly the children try and usurp their leaders. The clear parallel of "all children are equal, but some children are more equal than others" is obvious - and pointedly so.)
However as distinct as this volume might be from the first I must admit that to catch up is a low priority for me, and I really was not sold on the third book. There is too much talk here of the teens engaging in the first stage of the fight-back against the Scytharene, without any mention of how a second stage and beyond would ever work.
There is imagination being used in the detail here of the slave processing, and some elements of the alien culture, but too much density in the telling for my liking - it should have had a more youthful vim and vigour, and it also suffers from a very predictable ending to one major character. However if the target audience of teens can empathise with the characters more successfully than I was able to, and forgive the way the swings and roundabouts of the heroes' travails might have been told in a much less dense manner, they might well enjoy the book. As it is I don't feel strongly enough to recommend it, but neither too far against it to suggest it is never worth investigation.
I would still like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag to sample.
You can read more book reviews or buy Slave Harvest by Andrew Butcher at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Slave Harvest by Andrew Butcher at Amazon.com.
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