Hatch: The Overthrow, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Hatch: The Overthrow, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Half-alien teens fight back in violent, overstuffed sequel.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Some info about DNA and creating vaccines and antidotes with immune blood and chemical formulas. How radio communication works and ways to block it. How a bunker is set up for nuclear fallout and other catastrophes. You get an idea of what it means to terraform a planet without the term being described as plants and animals alter the Earth in many ways.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about bravery in the face of the unknown, what it means to be human and how to hold onto identities in the face of massive changes, and letting trust and intuition guide actions instead of fear.

Positive Role Models

Main characters Anaya, Petra, and Seth all have different reactions to their circumstances. Anaya follows her gut that things are going wrong and they need to escape and that the aliens talking to her want to help. Petra wants to believe in authority figures, even though they are causing them trauma. She thinks telling the truth to them will improve their treatment. Seth doesn't trust anyone except his friends, and another toxic friend convinces him that only she is on his side. He has to work hard to believe in others again. All three are changing into different "cryptogenic" creatures at the same time and wondering if the process is changing them so much that it takes away their humanity. With these changes they also face extreme discrimination and fear. Anaya's mom is a pilot and Seth's potential foster mom is a genetic scientist.

Violence

Teens are locked away, sedated, tasered, shot at with guns, restrained, and threatened with experiments and experimental surgery. Teens are stung by venomous bee-birds on purpose and studied. A main character's parent dies. Another character's parent almost dies from alien animal attacks. A teen is thrown from a train and presumed dead. Others go missing, and another is kidnapped. Soldiers and guards die in giant alien bug attacks with some gore with descriptions of one creature liquefying tissue and sucking it out and another eating people whole. A dead body is found with plants growing out of it. Some killed by sound waves in the brain. Talk of the thousands dead from the plants and new invading animals and from a bee-like bird bite that's venomous. People are moved to "spray zones" where alien plants have been killed and make panicked trips to superstores to buy supplies. Mentions of abductions and rape.

Sex

Brief kissing and some innuendo.

Language

"Crap" and "frigging," "hell," and "dicks" used rarely.

Consumerism

McDonald's food craved and eaten.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hatch is the second book in the sci-fi-horror Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel, the acclaimed author of The Nest and The Boundless. It deals with alien plants and animals that take over the Earth and kill tons of people with threat of an all-out invasion from more advanced aliens. That's in the background for the first part of the story, however. First, the teen main characters and others like them are locked away, sedated, tasered, shot at with guns, restrained, and threatened with experiments and experimental surgery. In the one experiment performed, the teens are stung by venomous bee-birds on purpose and studied (they all survive). After that, the bugs attack and there's some gore as soldiers are eaten whole or their tissue is liquefied and sucked out through their abdomens. A parent of one main character dies and another almost dies. Teens visit a superstore and watch people panic-shopping, which may be a little too close to home for some kids who have ridden out the coronavirus pandemic. The three main characters to have vastly different ways that they handle their crisis situation, but still maintain a strong friendship. They all wonder, and readers will too, what makes them human and what it means to hold onto their humanity with all the changes they face.

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What's the story?

In HATCH, Seth, Anaya, and Petra are taken from Deadman's Island in Canada to an underground bunker somewhere in the United States. Other teens with one cryptogenic parent have already been detained. There seem to be three kinds: super-strong jumpers that grow fur and claws like Anaya, amazing swimmers that grow tails and scales like Petra, and supposed flyers who grow wings like Seth but can't fly yet. As soon as the trio arrives they tell the other teens what's been happening on the outside. Eggs are raining down and starting to hatch into small bugs that keep growing bigger. It's alarming and world-altering, but right now the teens have their own problems. The facility detaining them is intent on turning them into lab rats, and they want to start with Anaya. She's had dreams recently where she's talking to a higher life form on a ship. The being says one word: Help. Anaya's not sure if they need help or want to provide it, but she knows one thing: They'll never find out if they don't escape the bunker.

Is it any good?

This fast-paced read throws too much into one sequel -- from giant bugs to alien ships to half-alien teens with hidden powers to bunker experiments -- but it's an exciting ride. Sci-fi focused fans will dig the mysterious communications Anaya begins to have with an alien she names Terra, but be disappointed that we're left hanging at the end of Hatch. They will also enjoy the new powers the teens have, including telepathy. It's a smart move for veteran author Kenneth Oppel to lock the kids away for the first half of the book so we can focus on the changes their experiencing instead of the giant worms ripping up cities in the outside world. Every good superhero origin story gives heroes time to explore their new powers.

While the sci-fi elements are engaging, the personal dramas of the three main characters are less so. They all experience some major missteps. Petra stubbornly insists on trusting and confiding in a man who clearly only cares about the teens as lab rats. No reader will think that will end well. Seth also trusts the wrong person and suffers for it. As for Anaya, we don't know yet because she wants to trust the aliens and refuses to listen to anyone else. The trio comes together at the end of the story despite how different they've become. Let's hope this fraught friendship can sustain them through all the exciting and alien-invasion action to come in Book 3.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the main friendships in Hatch. How do they have vastly different opinions on what they should do but still remain friends? Would you be able to remain friends with those who do many things you don't agree with?

  • The characters worry about their humanity as they go through changes. What keeps them human? What makes them more alien? Are they perceived by others as more alien or more human? What other stories that you've read deal with this idea?

  • Will you read the final book in this trilogy? What do you think will happen to Seth, Anaya, and Petra? What will happen to the Earth?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy

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