cover image Annex: The Violet Wars, Book 1

Annex: The Violet Wars, Book 1

Rich Larson. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-41654-2

Debut author Larson attempts to create a diverse cast of kids fighting back against an alien menace, but the story’s flaws overshadow an otherwise promising premise. Aliens invade a vaguely described present-day American town and begin kidnapping and drugging children, using them as hosts for parasites. Violet, a 15-year-old transgender girl, is part of a group called the Lost Boys and is in love with their leader, Wyatt. Bo, an immigrant from Niger, escapes the aliens and is found by Violet. The adults are all wandering around in an alien-induced daze, so the kids decide to take on the invaders. Larson casually tosses around Violet’s birth name in ways that transgender readers may find painful, and Bo is confused about her gender, which never gets resolved in the narrative. Meanwhile, Wyatt, who’s white, insists that Bo is naturally violent. Though marketed as an adult novel with young adult crossover appeal, it’s hard to imagine readers of any age finding this poorly characterized story satisfying. Agent: John Silbersack, Trident Media Group. (July)