J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon did not hold back in their new contemporary science fiction thriller, “Arrival” which is the first book in the “War for Earth” trilogy. The audiobook edition is well narrated by Chelsea Stephens, who at times elevates a weaker storyline keeping the book feeling alive and interesting. The publisher’s summary states the book is a post-apocalyptic thriller, and I could not agree more. There are overtones of horror along with elements of science fiction making up this somewhat fractured story involving survival, the unknown, and wanting to be reunited with one’s children. If you are a fan of aliens who are intent on talking over our planet for their own use, enjoy stories with decent character backgrounds and some good descriptive writing, I think you will like what this book provides you in return. Are there points where the story is weaker than I would have liked? Yes, but I found the solid narration helps bring the story upwards and between the two components, the book is worth a coveted Audible credit; that is if you are one who does not mind spending a total of three credits to complete the trilogy.
The book opens on a rather emotional note along with providing the reader with some good background about the various main characters. This extra information helps to ground the reader, so one can better understand the events faced in their new situations. I enjoyed knowing about the characters and the reasons they acted the way they did throughout the story. I will say that I felt this family was overly dysfunctional, but that may be based more on my own upbringing. We are also presented with a few of the standard character tropes one finds in a story like this one. We have the scientist, the know-it-all, and the crazy (but often correct) conspiracy theorist, etc. Even though they are regulars in a story like this, a few twists made them feel unique and slightly different.
What happens when a strange obelisk emerges from the ground and a protective domed shield separates those who are inside from those outside. What drives the story forward is that one of the main characters is separated from her children. She is determination to get them back which find her on an emotional roller coaster wanting to be reunited with them. This passion and desire fuels her every move along the way. If I were to boil the book down to a single word, it would be struggle. From its start to the finish, you could feel the pain, struggle, and drive to find a way of getting through this impenetrable force and once again be in the arms of her children. Often it reminded me of the events that took place in New Orleans after a hurricane stranded many. We quickly observed just how fast humankind devolves when in survival mode, and it is no different in this story. One often has to throw out all they have learned and instead turn to various make-shift weapons and means to stay alive. Even more heart breaking being that the main character determined she was unable to save everyone, only some people would make it out of this mess alive and she was already doing all she could. The story takes us from space, to inside the dome, outside the done, and even under the city looking for a means of escape.
I listen and review many book, and I was quite surprised when I found that Chelsea Stephens is a rather new comer to the Audible narration scene. At the time of this review, she only has a total of two books to her name. Why the surprise? Well the audio was of professional quality, the narration of the characters was better than many other books I have listened too, etc. The use of inflection and accents for the different characters helped make them feel alive. I do not recall any audio artifacts while listening (no swallows, no page turns, no volume inconsistencies), simply clean and clear narration. I look forward to new books by this narrator in the future.
For Parents and younger readers, this book does contain some light romance and topics covering sexual matters. The book also has a light use of profanity based on what one would expect from the genre, however it does get heavier later in the story. As one would have expected, there are quite a few scenes containing rather graphic violence that may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
In summary, this is an action-packed and suspenseful survival story involving aliens. If you are one who likes books such as “War of the Worlds”, I recommend you pick it up and give it a listen. Just remember this is a trilogy, so you will need to purchase all three books to find out what happens. As expected, this book does leave many cliff-hangers for those wanting to jump right into the second book.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.