Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Scan Book Poster Image
Clever sci-fi thriller stresses do-it-yourself science.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Scan is primarily a sci-fi alien-invasion thriller, but it does offer scenes with actual science in them. The protagonist, Tate, uses an advanced knowledge of chemistry to fashion impromptu explosives and nonlethal weapons. The coauthors do not provide enough details for any reader to replicate the experiments.

Positive Messages

Scan emphasizes the importance of family and loved ones while questioning unswerving loyalty to groups or races. Although Tate has a rocky relationship with both parents, he begins to see why they're so demanding of him. His love for his girlfriend Christina is constant, even when it seems possible that she might betray him.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tate and Christina both are extraordinary individuals: intelligent, driven, and brave. Tate's also prone to acting before thinking things through. Christina's somewhat unrealistically portrayed as perfect in every way imaginable.


There are a number of shoot-outs and car chases in Scan, resulting in a number of fatalities, including that of a major supporting character. Tate uses household items to create explosives and nonlethal weapons, but the details of their construction are omitted.


Tate and Christina share a physically intimate relationship, the boundaries of which are unclear. They hug and kiss, but, when things get too intense, they pull back. In a separate incident, Tate witnesses a guy "jacking off" while stuck in traffic.


Profanity and vulgar language -- ranging from variations of "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole" to "bastard," "bitch," "p---y," "damn," and "hell" -- are used very frequently, perhaps once every five pages.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tate makes a joke about drinking vodka, but otherwise there's no drinking, drugs, or smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents needs to know that Scan is an action-packed, science-fiction thriller about an alien invasion. It contains shoot-outs and car chases, some of which result in fatalities. The protagonist, Tate, uses household items to make explosives and nonlethal weapons, but the details of their construction are withheld. Tate and his girlfriend Christina spend a lot of time kissing and hugging, but they pull back when things get too steamy. Profanity and vulgar language -- ranging from variations of "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole" to "bastard," "bitch," "p---y," "damn," and "hell" -- are used very frequently.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byteacherjh December 6, 2018

too much

Too much vulgarity of language and sexuality for my 14 1/2 year old!
Teen, 16 years old Written byJflores14 May 3, 2015

Exciting alien thriller will entertain teens

This amazing scifi alien tale is great and is filled with action and romance. Teens are sure to eat this up!
Violence- some explosions, hand to hand c... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tate doesn't understand why his father pushes him so hard to excel in school and in martial arts or why his dad is so secretive about his work and research. After Tate steals a mysterious device from his father's lab and brings it to the high school, he precipitates a series of unintended and ultimately tragic events. Before he knows what's happening, he, his mother, and his girlfriend Christina are on the run from extraterrestrial agents who will stop at nothing to retrieve the gadget.

Is it any good?

SCAN is a high-concept sci-fi thriller with some interestingly unique features. There have been plenty of alien-invasion books featuring extraterrestrials who look, act, and talk just like us earthlings, but by adding a MacGyver-ish do-it-yourself science spin to the tale, coauthors Walter Jury and S.E. Fine give their narrative some extra oomph. The action scenes are well choreographed, and there are a number of satisfying plot reversals. Tate's interactions with his estranged parents are well done, but his continuous insistence on how absolutely awesome his girlfriend is gets a little old after a while. This volume makes no excuses for ending on a cliffhanger, but it will leave most readers primed for the next installment.

One wonders why the language needs to be so rough; Scan contains more casual profanity than many adult science-fiction thrillers, and whatever it gains in edginess it loses in gracelessness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why science-fiction scenarios are popular in books for teens. Which real-life issues are reflected in stories about alien invasions?

  • Why do some parents push their children to excel in school and in sports? How much pressure is too much?

  • Have you ever done something that caused more trouble than you could have imagined beforehand? What did you have to do to make the situation better?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Themes & Topics

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