Scott Burn's The Enemy Within was published in July 2016.
Information about Scott Burn:
Scott Burn is a former lawyer turned writer. He is the creator of the science fiction comic book series AGON and has sold several feature screenplays as well. The Enemy Within is his first novel. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Sarah, three step children and two toe-nibbling cats. He loves that LA offers biking, hiking, surfing and skiing all relatively close by. He doesn't do any of those things, but imagines he might in an alternate universe.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information The Enemy Within:
Seventeen-year-old Max has always felt like an outsider. When the agonizing apocalyptic visions begin, he decides suicide is his only escape. He soon finds himself in a psych ward under the guidance of a therapist who sees something exceptional in him. Just as he begins to leave the hallucinations behind, Max discovers the visions weren't just in his head.
There are three others who have shared those same thoughts and they've been searching for Max. Like him, they are something more than human. Each of them possesses certain abilities, which they're going to need when a covert military group begins hunting them down.
As the danger escalates, Max doesn't know which side to trust. But in the end, his choice will decide the fate of both species.
A REVIEW OF SCOTT BURN'S THE ENEMY WITHIN
Scott Burn's The Enemy Within is a welcome addition to young adult science fiction, because it's an exciting and well written novel. It was a pleasant reading experience for me, because I found myself captivated by the fast-moving story and its entertainment values. The story was satisfyingly fresh and a bit different from what has been recently published, because it featured identity issues, morality issues and survival themes.
I've noticed that there's an increasingly popular trend going in YA science speculative fiction, which has resulted in gritty novels that feature realistic depiction of events and don't shy away from difficult and challenging material. Scott Burn's The Enemy Within belongs to this group of novels, because it begins with the protagonist's suicide attempt and then focuses on what happens to him afterwards and how he deals with what he finds out about himself. It is not your normal kind of fluffy YA science fiction in which everything is neat and tidy, because it has a strong and gritty story.
One of the things that often annoys me in YA speculative fiction is that way too many authors add shallow characters, melodramatic moments, transparent love triangles or blissfully happy endings to their novels (in my opinion, these matters are especially annoying when coupled with mediocre writing). Fortunately, Scott Burn avoids these common mistakes in his novel and exhibits signs of original storytelling and rich imagination. He dares to entertain his readers with fresh material.
In my honest opinion, this self-published novel rivals anything that has been published by big publishing companies over the recent years. It surpasses many new novels in terms of freshness and fluent storytelling, because it's more compact than them and the story is being powerfully driven forward by the author's fluent writing style.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- Seventeen-year-old Max sees apocalyptic visions about cloud of smoke and ash swirled through the city. Waves of fire consume buildings and structures collapse with mighty force. No one survives the inferno, except Max. He sees these visions over and over each day.
- Max doesn't want to die, but he feels that death is the only way to escape the visions. He breaks into a drug store, takes pills and wanders outside to die, but fails at committing a suicide. He is rescued and transported to Hanover Institute. He meets Doctor Garner who tries to help him.
- Unbeknownst to Max, there are others like him - Vincent, Noah and Jamie - who are aware of his existence. Just like Max, they're something more than human. They have abilities that set them apart from normal people. They know that they have to find Max or they'll die...
This is the beginning of an exciting story about a different kind of teenager's life and fate and the survival of two species.
I like the author's writing style, because he doesn't get stuck on meaningless issues, but focuses on writing a compact and strong story. He has cut out all the unnecessary elements that would've hindered him from creating a strong story.
The characterisation is surprisingly good and effective. The protagonist and the other characters are interesting and the author gradually reveals more information about them and what they have to do in order to survive.
Max is a realistic protagonist who has not had an easy life. He believes that he is an offspring of a one-night-stand. His mother has died and his father is unknown to him. His foster father doesn't care about him (when he had his first vision, his foster father thought that he was on meth and ignored him). His life has not been simple since leaving his foster father, because he has had odd jobs and has spent time at libraries and museums.
One of the things that impressed me in this novel is that the author doesn't spend time on reflecting how Max does not fit in with others, but concentrates on writing about how much Max's life has changed because of not being able to fit in and how he tries to cope with his problems. Max does his best to make sense of things that seem strange to him.
I enjoyed reading about the other main characters - Vincent, Noah and Jamie - because they were different from normal people and had interesting abilities. It was interesting to read about them and how they interacted with each other, because their dialogues were good. It was especially fascinating for me to read about Vincent who sensed the Eye that looked after them. I won't go into details about what the Eye is or what it does, but I can mention that the storyline involves aliens.
The main characters feel a bit like a YA take on X-Men and other similar kind of superheroes because of their abilities, but they're totally different from superheroes. The author's vision of them feels realistic, because their motives are gradually revealed to readers and they're described as persons who try to survive while being hunted down by a covert military group.
In my opinion, Scott Burn manages to portray teenage life and angst in an interesting way. His combination of various teenage problems (alienation, neglect, abuse, mental health) and science fiction elements works well, because there's a good balance between different elements and he's capable of delivering a few surprises.
The scenes in which Max and Doctor Garner discuss various things and try to figure out what goes on inside Max's mind are well written. The author has done a convincing job at writing about how therapists do their job and how they try to help other people.
It's great that the author has created a fresh vision of alien species and its survival. He pays attention to writing about what may have to be done in the name of survival to avoid extinction. His thought-provoking way of writing about survival issues impressed me, because he handled everything well and avoided melodramatic moments.
This novel has a bit of humour in it, which is nice, because it offers counter-balance for the dark happenings. Some of the comments and remarks made by the characters are amusing and witty (I'm sure that many readers will enjoy them).
I look forward to reading what Scott Burn writes next, because he's a talented author who has a gift for addictive storytelling and fluent characterisation. I sincerely hope that he will continue to write more YA science fiction, because he doesn't repeat the same mistakes that so many other authors manifest in their novels, but concentrates on writing fresh fiction.
Scott Burn's The Enemy Within is a fast-paced, interesting and well written YA sci-fi novel that differs from many other similar kind of novels, but is akin enough to them to attract the attention of readers who enjoy reading this kind of fiction. I can recommend it to young adults and adults alike, because it will please both readerships. If you've enjoyed reading novels by Rick Yancey, Dan Wells and Pittacus Lore, you'll most likely enjoy The Enemy Within and will find it satisfying and intriguing. It's a hidden gem of YA science fiction that awaits to be discovered by readers.
Exciting, entertaining and well written YA science fiction!