Welcome to my stop on the Scan blog tour! Today I’m reviewing the book, and if you come back on Friday, I have a very cool interview with author Walter Jury.
Scan by Walter Jury & Sarah Fine
Genre: Young adult science fiction
Publisher: Putnam Children’s
Release date: May 1 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.
All Tate knows–like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid–may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.
The nitty-gritty: Fast-paced and exciting, an engaging main character, lots of awesome gadgets and just the right amount of romance.
I am sitting next to my dead father in the backseat of a blood-smeared, bullet-pocked SUV driven by my girlfriend. Who is an alien.
I love that quote because it perfectly sets the tone of the story and gives you an idea of the voice of main character Tate Archer, a teenaged boy whose life has just taken a hard left turn without any warning. I enjoyed Scan so much! It was a breath of fresh air to read a fun and exciting adventure story with plenty of action and characters that I could really relate too—without getting too heavy-handed and preachy. The word that keeps coming to mind about Scan is fun. This book was a fun read, and even though it wasn’t perfect, it came at just the right time for me when I needed a story that wasn’t too complex. The writing is succinct and snappy, and Tate’s voice is one of the best things about this book. This is Jury’s first book for the young adult crowd, but his co-author Sarah Fine is a seasoned writer, and her skills shine through. The small issues I had with the story did not detract from my enjoyment at all, and I honestly cannot wait to read the next book in the series.
To briefly set up the story, Tate is a high school junior whose life is anything but normal. On the outside, he goes to his classes and hangs out with his girlfriend Christina, but during his off hours, his schedule is rigidly set by his controlling father. Tate’s father makes him study advanced chemistry and multiple foreign languages in addition to his subjects in school, puts him on a grueling schedule of daily jiu jitsu classes and body building, and gives him carefully controlled meals with just the right amounts of calories and protein to keep Tate in top physical shape. Tate can’t stand his father, mostly because he won’t tell Tate why he’s making his life miserable.
But one day, Tate and Christina decide to break into his dad’s secret home laboratory, and what they find there changes their lives in an instant. Tate’s father has been developing an instrument made with stolen alien technology, a scanner that glows either blue or red, depending on who it’s focused on. Tate steals the scanner and foolishly takes it to school the next day, but when the cops, some menacing men in suits, and his father show up in the school cafeteria, Tate realizes he’s made a huge mistake. Now he and Christina are running for their lives, and trying to keep the scanner from getting into the wrong hands.
The story is told in first person from Tate’s POV, and frankly, I loved being inside his head. Tate is a teenaged boy through and through. He’s angry at his controlling father and rebels against him every chance he gets, often by using the knowledge he’s gained from all those extra hours of studying by thwarting his father. The blurb on the back of the book compares Scan to MacGyver, which is a great comparison. Tate can make fireworks out of powdered sugar and toilet bowl cleaner and bombs out of oranges and lighter fluid, and his quick thinking and clever ideas save him more than once. His voice is at times snarky and sarcastic, but sometimes you can see the uncertainty and confusion of being a teen come through.
The best part of Tate’s character is the way he feels about Christina. I’ve never actually been inside the head of a teenaged boy, but I can imagine this is exactly what it must be like. His feelings for Christina are of course sexual in nature, but he also loves and respects her and doesn’t want to do anything to hurt her. Even when he finds out that she’s, well, different.
I also loved Tate’s mom, who turns out to be a bad-ass character that saves the day more than once. Since Tate’s parents are divorced, Tate is surprised when his mom shows up, and even more so when she turns out to have mad survival skills. But as you’ll find out when you read Scan, Tate doesn’t know who to trust, and even as the people in his life are starting to take sides over certain issues, Tate is hesitant to make a decision about what is right and what is wrong.
So yes, Scan is about aliens. But I don’t want to say much more than that and spoil some of the surprises for you. Although I did find parts of the story to be predictable and ridiculously easy to figure out (for example, I was never in the dark about what the blue and red lights emanating from the scanner meant), I’ll admit I was never 100% sure about other things, and that made me flip furiously through the pages as quickly as possible. Also, I never really felt as if the aliens were aliens, if you know what I mean. These aliens look and act exactly like humans, and I sort of missed that feeling of otherworldliness that you might have with stories like Alien, for example.
But despite these small issues, I had a great time reading Scan, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Burn, the next book in the series. Honestly, there is nothing like a chase story, and this one is a perfect example of how much fun they can be. Mystery, action, romance, and danger: Scan has it all, and this should be the next book you read.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Quote above was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ from the finished version.
Walter Jury was born in London, has a background in the film industry, is a big fan of the New York Giants, and enthusiast of Jamba Juice’s Protein Berry Workout smoothie only with soy, never whey. Scan is his first book for teens. Oh, and under his real name, he’s a producer of one of 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Let’s just say he “diverges” in his career from film to literature quite well.
Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author of several young adult books, and when she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. No, she is not psychoanalyzing you right now.