Scan

Common Sense Media says

Clever sci-fi thriller stresses do-it-yourself science.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Authors:Walter Jury, Sarah E. Fine
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs, Science and nature, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Putnam Juvenile
Publication date:May 1, 2014
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Scan was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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