Scion of Conquered Earth is a young adult, sci-fi, space opera with some post-apocalyptic, survival horror elements. Yeah, that’s a lot of adjectives, but trust me, they’re necessary.
The protagonist is Alaric, an amnesiac teenager trying to survive alone in a post-alien conquered Earth, hence the title. The first third or so of the story details this struggle for survival: scavenging for food, water, shelter, etc, among the ruins of civilization and so, so many maggot infested corpses. No really, you’d be amazed at how many decaying bodies and maggots are in this part of the book, all in gory, disgusting, delightfully macabre detail. He also has to contend with various hostile groups, be they hordes of cannibals or high-tech alien drones.This part of the story is oppressive, disheartening, and honestly, difficult to get through, as he suffers one tragedy after another, witnessing atrocities and being coerced into committing horrific acts himself. Now, that isn’t to say that it comes across as gratuitous, because the point of it all seems to be to convey just how absolutely unrelentingly bleak life is on Earth after the invasion, and it is spectacularly executed…it just isn’t very fun to read. Fortunately, it doesn’t dwell on this too long, and once the scene is set, the rest of the story is incredibly entertaining.Once escaping Earth on a spaceship run by the wonderfully acerbic yet caring AI Cassii, it goes into full space opera mode and doesn’t look back, and it benefits greatly from the lighter tone. Alaric explores different worlds, encounters a wide variety of creatively intriguing species, and has multiple run-ins with space pirates and other unsavory characters. It’s a wild and fun ride that the reader gets to experience right along with Alaric. This isn’t to say that it’s all fun and games, because even though these adventures are thoroughly enjoyable, the events that take place and the situations he finds himself in are, for the most part, still quite serious, and the decisions Alaric makes have very real and lasting consequences.Overall, Scion of Conquered Earth is a gripping read that balances a fast paced plot with smaller character moments as well as plenty of exposition, without ever actually feeling like exposition. There is a bit of a curve in getting into it at first, but once you do, you’ll be hooked and unable to put it down. I feel obligated to warn you in advance: the end will leave you wanting more! If you’re a fan of sci-fi, or know someone who is, I’d recommend giving this book a shot.