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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some info about DNA and virus creation. 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. Much talk about a serious problem for the whole world -- in this case, alien invasion -- and how politics gets in the way of saving lives.
Strong messages about bravery in face of the unknown, letting trust and intuition guide actions instead of fear. Specific to this book: Effective communication is the only way to solve problems with far less violence.
Positive Role Models
As with the rest of the series, main characters Anaya, Petra, and Seth all have different reactions to their circumstances. Anaya is determined to help save humanity, is willing to sacrifice herself. She's a good problem solver, speaks her mind when she thinks adults in power are in the wrong. Petra grows into her heroic role, at first not wanting anything to do with the cyroptogen being she's asked to communicate with. She slowly sees how important her role is in saving many lives, even builds a relationship with the creature she used to dislike -- so much so that she insists everyone use proper pronouns for the cryptogen, ze and zir, whom she realizes is not male or female. But she also makes a few selfish decisions that put others in danger. Seth is at first easily swayed by others, especially a girl he likes, into thinking everyone else is on the wrong side. He comes around and makes up for poor choices with some serious heroism near the end.
Violence & Scariness
Action violence is high when alien invasion begins. Bodies are strewn on the ground, helicopters and ships go up in flames, missiles and other weapons are launched. Some gore mentioned, mostly inflicted on the cryptogens: heads explode, a harpoon goes through a heart, a giant creature eats other cryptogens. Some humans killed in giant alien bug attacks and tortured by painful sound waves. A human plummets to earth in an alien vessel, another is attacked by sea creatures. Others are shot and held captive. Some injuries healed by alien technology.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mentions of a kiss between two teens, and a crush.
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"Bastard," "hell," and "holy sh--" (written like that).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At a dinner, adults drink glasses of red wine, and teens are given "splashes" of wine in their glasses.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Thrive is the third and final book in the sci-fi-horror Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel, the acclaimed author of The Nest and The Boundless. In the second book, Hatch, alien plants and animals take over the earth and kill tons of people. In this book, the aliens (or cryptogens) arrive and get ready to claim the planet. Luckily, some rebel aliens are on the humans' side, and communication with them is key to saving the world. One of the main teen characters, Anaya, is brave and great at communicating with the aliens. It takes her friends Petra and Seth time to step up to the challenge, but in the end both are heroic. Expect a full alien invasion with their much better tech against our measly missiles, guns, etc. Helicopters and ships explode, and many people die. Gore is mostly suffered by the aliens (including a couple of the good ones). Alien heads explode, a harpoon goes through a heart, and a giant creature eats other aliens. This is a tense, exciting read best enjoyed by kids who aren't too sensitive to themes that overlap with the COVID-19 pandemic (though books 1 and 2 are more focused than this one is on the collapse of society and fearful humans).
Is It Any Good?
This alien-invasion series finale has a summer blockbuster feel with nonstop action, cool spaceships, and teens saving the day. Will the teens save the world? Of course -- not really a spoiler, is it? Will the ending truly satisfy? About as much as a summer blockbuster -- on more of a surface level that glosses over some tough realities, like what happens to the alien-human hybrid teens left behind when society still doesn't accept them?
If you can get past this fact, Thrive is a great ride. At one point, it's a ride in an alien pod from space down to earth for one unlucky teen hybrid. It's a scene so tense you won't have any fingernails left at the end of it. The three teen leads all go in separate, fascinating directions in the story: to space and back, to an enemy ship hovering ominously over British Columbia, to a stranded ship underwater filled with hungry alien sea creatures. Having the hybrids' perspective means readers get so much closer to the action. The hybrids talk to the aliens telepathically and visit their bizarre fleshy ships and do everything the aliens do – even fly with them -- instead of sitting there pressing buttons like some hapless leader watching Armageddon from a military base. It makes Thrive feel even more up-close exciting than your favorite action blockbuster, even without the screen.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.