Conquest: The Chronicle of the Invaders, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Conquest: The Chronicle of the Invaders, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting start to high-octane alien-invasion series.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Conquest takes its science and geography seriously and presents the aliens Illyri and their technological advances plausibly. Set mostly in Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands, the story uses the areas' history effectively as background.

Positive Messages

Conquest depicts two societies in violent opposition to each other but also holds out the hope that they might work together to overcome an even greater mutual threat. Loyalty to friends and families is emphasized but not at the price of mistreating those with whom it's difficult to empathize.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The primary teen characters in Conquest, both human and Illyri, are presented as brave, intelligent, and resourceful, willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of their families and friends. Paul and Steven Kerr actively work with the Resistance. Syl and Ani lead more sheltered lives within Edinburgh Castle, but they're rebellious enough to sneak outside. All four are able to see beyond their prejudices and have compassion for their so-called enemies.

Violence

Set in the aftermath of an alien invasion, Conquest contains a large number of violent scenes. There are deadly explosions, gunfights, stabbings, attacks by carnivorous extraterrestrials, and torture sessions. The authors do not dwell on the graphic details, but sensitive readers might find some of the scenes creepy and uncomfortable.

Sex

Sexual content in Conquest is fairly low-key. Syl is physically and emotionally attracted to Paul, who seems to share her interest. They share a couple of intense kisses. Paul's younger brother has a crush on Syl's friend Ani, but it's not reciprocated.

Language

Conquest makes limited use of "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism

The Scottish soft drink Irn Bru is mentioned as having survived the alien invasion.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Word is that underage extraterrestrial Ani is often caught drinking illicit alcoholic beverages, but these scenes are not dramatized. Adults in the Resistance and the Securitat drink and smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Conquest, a fast-paced, complex science-fiction adventure set in Scotland in the aftermath of an alien invasion, has a number of violent scenes, including deadly explosions, gunfights, stabbings, torture sessions, and attacks by swarms of carnivorous extraterrestrial particles. Although not described in graphic detail, some of these scenes may make sensitive readers uncomfortable. Sexual content is very low (some flirting and a couple of passionate kisses), and there's very little objectionable language ("damn" and "hell").

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What's the story?

The Illyri, a refined, attractive race of humanoid aliens, have invaded Earth and subjugated its human inhabitants. In Edinburgh, Scotland, teen brothers Paul and Steven Kerr work with the Resistance, gathering intelligence about the Illyri in hopes of overthrowing them. When 16-year-old Syl Hellais and her friend Ani take an illicit trip outside the Illyri stronghold, the boys protect them from a deadly explosion. Before they understand what's happening, Paul and Steven are taken captive, and Syl and Ani are accused of treason. Torn between their loyalty to their own civilization and their sympathy for the downtrodden humans, the girls work to save themselves, their families, and their new friends from a secret that threatens to destroy them all.

Is it any good?

CONQUEST finds new juice in a standard science-fiction premise: the alien invasion. Bestselling mystery writer John Connolly, in collaboration with Jennifer Ridyard, knows how to keep the suspense cranked high, and together the authors deliver a densely plotted thriller that avoids many of the problems that plague potboilers by less experienced hands. Human and alien characters are presented as fully rounded individuals, with conflicting motives and relatable traits. The setting is fresh and the scientific speculation plausible. Best of all, there's a real sense at the end of the volume that the best is still to come, that the next two volumes will be just as original and pulse-pounding.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories of alien invasions are so popular. What can imagining extraterrestrial life illuminate about the human condition?

  • What reasons do governments give for invading other countries? What kinds of problems arise from such actions?

  • What assumptions do people make about members of another culture? How can those assumptions change over time?

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