It is a huge rush when an author reaches out and asks me to read their work, which is the case with Scott Burn and his new story, The Enemy Within. Released in August of 2016, it has enjoyed numerous four and five star reviews on Amazon as well as Goodreads.
Enemy opens with a look at a troubled 17 year old, Max, who is having disturbing visions of destruction by fire. Having just ran away from a deplorable existence in foster care under an abusive alcoholic, he decides that he has nothing left to live for and attempts suicide. After being caught by law enforcement and being stabilized in a hospital, he is transported to an institution where he comes under the care of a doctor who begins to bring Max out of his shell. Even though Max finds the institution a safe and beneficial place, he is still compelled to escape.
Meanwhile, another group of three 17 year olds gather at an amusement park and wonder where a fourth member is and why he hasn’t arrived at the appointed time.
Elsewhere, a satellite monitoring station finds that there is a new satellite in orbit of the Earth and learn that there is no evidence of a launch anywhere. When Colonel Jasper of the U.S. Army orders that the new satellite be investigated, the bird that is sent to take pictures is destroyed before it reaches the objective. Of course, Jasper sees this as an act of war and begins an investigation to learn the intentions of the satellite, which is beaming transmissions to certain places on the planet.
The three youths, Vincent, Noah, and Jamie are somehow connected to Max and when they liberate him from the institution, they find that they all have much in common with each other. One thing they all share is that they are all connected with the new satellite, which they call “The Eye,” and that they will all die very soon unless they are able to change the planet’s atmosphere just slightly to accommodate their requirements as human/alien hybrids. While it all seems quite innocent, as time goes on, there arises a far more sinister agenda in the works.
Author Scott Burn takes the old sci-fi trope of alien invasion to a different dimension in The Enemy Within. Missing from this is an all-out open takeover by aliens in ships with superior weapons, or aliens landing and pretending to be benevolent benefactors buying our confidence only to lull earthlings into compliance. This story is about a very quiet and patient attempt to remake the planet into a place that is useful to them by creating four alien/human hybrids, each one with special skills, and quietly take over an unsuspecting population.
My favorite part of this story is the misdirection that the author uses for a character in the book that starts out appearing to be the main antagonist in the story and eventually turns out to be right in the end. This journey, however, is marred with an atrocity that is carried out on a somewhat large number of people, and then said character justifies it by using a version of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” as an argument to commit out an out murder. I found this disturbing, but I can also see this happening in the real world. At any rate, just when I got to the height of hatred for the one character, we get the meaning of the title of the story when it is revealed that the actual antagonist is not who we are at first led to believe it was. This is brilliantly done and I was caught completely unawares and enjoyed it immensely.
The main character of Enemy, Max, starts out looking like someone who is desperate to just end his life because he has not only been having disturbing visions of an apocalypse by fire, but has lost all hope of just being able to function in a society where all the chips have been stacked against him. By the end of the exposition of the story, Max becomes a very likable young man who has found a purpose and begins to move forward and grow. I think that many young people would not only be able to relate to Max, but also be able to see that no matter how bad things seem at the time, there is always someone else that is worse-off than one believes themselves to be.
The Enemy Within is touted as a novel for young adults and I think it is well written for the young readers because the pace is very fast and always moving forward. I found myself not wanting to stop reading once I started because there was really no stopping points in the story. However, if you are considering suggesting this story to a young person, be warned that one character has a huge problem with alcohol abuse, and as I mentioned before, there are a few scenes that are quite disturbing. At the same time, a well grounded young sci-fi fan in the middle to upper grades in high school should get a lot of enjoyment here.
Well, there it is…
Edited By Benjamin Arrowood