Untaken by J.E. Anckorn
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (260 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it’s your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next.
In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn’t too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn’t: A plan.
Brandon’s uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave.
Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon.
Brandon is big into army guys.
Gracie has to admit that Brandon’s Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn’t for Jake.
They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone’s ranch house. He’s a good kid, even if he won’t-or can’t- talk.
But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they’ve started to forge looks set to break apart.
When the people you’ve been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.
The end of the world is no place for keeping secrets. If only Brandon and Gracie knew how to uncover all of them before it’s too late.
It took a little while for the narrators to describe what the aliens look like and why they’re so dangerous, but it was definitely worth the wait. The aliens were incredibly scary creatures, and I only grew more frightened of them as more details about their species were revealed. They were really well done antagonists.
The beginning included lengthy flashbacks to what Gracie and Brandon’s lives were like before the aliens attacked. While I appreciated the character development that happened in these sections, they did slow down the pacing considerably. I was expecting something much more action-packed than what happened in the first third or so of this book based on how it was marketed to readers.
The transitions between the narrators were quite smooth. While each one was labelled with the name of the person who was remembering a particular series of events, their voices were so distinct that I could have easily figured out who was speaking without this. It was nice to have such a variety of perspectives on what was happening. This is a good example of how to include more than one narrator in the same story.
There were a few plot twists that never made sense to me. They involved certain individuals in this universe doing and saying things that should have been completely out of character for someone in their position. These actions were so unexpected and unpredictable that they pulled me out of the plot altogether. Having more information about why those characters acted that way would have been helpful as I was never sure what those scenes were supposed to be communicating to the audience.
A smart ending is important. While I had a good idea of how this novel might end, it managed to slide a few surprises into the last few scenes that made it hard for me to stop reading. They made sense given everything that had happened to Gracie and her friends early on, but seeing everything come together the way it did kept me on my toes.
I’d recommend Untaken to anyone who enjoys science fiction tales about alien invaders.