First in a series
By Walter Jury and Sarah Fine
Available now from Putnam Juvenile (Penguin Random House)
I love Sarah Fine's Guards of the Shadowlands series, so when I found out she was co-authoring a sci-fi novel, I perked up and paid attention. SCAN is the story of Tate, whose genius inventor father has high expectations he can't quite meet. He loves rebelling in little ways, including sneaking his girlfriend into his father's lab for a makeout session. But when he takes an invention out of the lab . . .
SCAN is basically an extended chase scene with lots of explosions and double crosses. There are also aliens, and I love aliens. The cover did make me expect a more futuristic novel, perhaps one even set in space. But the aliens and their technology are the main things that make SCAN science fiction. The novel is generally set in normal, twenty-first century America otherwise. Of course, SCAN is focused on one of the great sci-fi questions.
One of the best aspects of SCAN were the relationships, which added stakes and pathos to the constant chases. Tate's relationship with his father obviously looms large, but his relationship to his mother (who left his father) is also important. She's a woman who struggles to be strong for her son in an impossibly dangerous and painful situation.
Then there's Tate's relationship with his girlfriend Christina. They're obviously very much in love (and have trouble keeping their hands off of each other), but they still get into fights because they're in a tough situation and have no room to cool off. In addition, Tate asks for forgiveness after being a jerk, and they talk about their problems when they get the rare quiet moment.
These relationships are so important to the focus of the novel, which is what makes us human. The chase is just set dressing. SCAN is a fun novel with surprising hints of depth, but it isn't entirely satisfying. There's a cliffhanger ending, and far more questions than answers. I look forward to what comes next in this series, but I'm a bit miffed that SCAN doesn't really stand on its own.