The Enemy Within
By Scott Burn
Genre: Science Fiction/ YA
Seventeen-year-old Max has always felt like an outsider. When the agonizing apocalyptic visions begin, he decides suicide is his only escape. He soon finds himself in an institution under the guidance of a therapist who sees something exceptional in him. Just as he begins to leave the hallucinations behind, Max discovers the visions weren’t just in his head.
There are three others who have shared those same thoughts and they’ve been searching for Max. Like him, they are something more than human. Each of them possesses certain abilities, which they’re going to need when a covert military group begins hunting them down.
As the danger escalates, Max doesn’t know which side to trust. But in the end, his choice will decide the fate of both species.
Yes, I know.. I have all but sworn off YA. However, after reading a favorable review by Stephanie (AKA Teach) that can be found here and being contacted by the author, I decided to give The Enemy Within an honest read. I had explained to Scott that I was very hesitant to review another YA title at this time, but he was confident enough to “roll the dice” as he put it. Having drifted away from sci-fi, this seemed like a potentially nice starting point for a light reintroduction.
The Enemy Within introduces us to Max, a 17 yr old foster child who has been cast aside and left to face his hardships on his own. He has been suffering from visions of destruction and post apocalyptic devastation that have left him tormented and exhausted with life.
After a failed suicide attempt, Max finds himself institutionalized in Hanover. Just when he believes he is about to recover from what could only be a form of hallucinations, he learns the harrowing truth. The very thing he has been running from is in fact reality.
He is broken out of the institute by 3 unknown individuals who soon teach him that they are all something part of something else. Something more than human. Something greater. Soon Max will find himself in a race against time with the enemy. But who is the true enemy? What happens when everything you have ever known has been stripped from you and replaced with complete uncertainty? Max is about to find out.
The Enemy Within is a fast paced read that delivers the many facets one might expect when encountering YA science fiction. We have a teenage protagonist, the possibility of alien life and even a handful of scientists. There were an equal balance of elements that worked and did not work for me however.
I found connecting with the protagonist Max to be more than challenging at times. I attribute some of this to intentional character traits such as his self-preservation through isolation. He was sheltered and hesitant. As a whole, this was very applicable and understandable. It played into his troubled life and history. But I was continually hopeful though that this barrier would eventually be broken, that Max would let us in. It never truly happened for me. In that, I was disappointed.
Supporting characters while obviously crucial to the story often presented as too oversimplified and familiar for my tastes. I feel as though angst ridden teens blessed with superhuman powers are becoming a common scene among sci-fi and unfortunately, it just is not a scenario that works well for me. I also discovered myself in want of more character depth. Each character shared the same back story and while there is a reason for this that I will not reveal, it wasn’t enough to invest fully me. I needed more elaboration, something to make each one feel like a true individual. Therefore, the characters were someone lost on me.
The plot for The Enemy Within still prevailed though. It was engaging, instantly introducing a strong element of mystery and intrigue within the first chapter to snare the reader. A quickened pace was automatically established that was consistently maintained throughout the duration of the story, creating an inviting and easy read full of entertaining moments. The writing was fluid and appropriate for the intended audience. Narration and transitions went off without a hitch providing an experience that was easy to appreciate even with a few minor hiccups along the way.
While I found the ending leaning more toward the predictable side, there were definitely a few twists and events I did not foresee. The conclusion was still satisfying. I honestly believe that this is a fantastic YA science fiction. The real trouble here is that I am no longer the appropriate audience. So with that said, I am confident that this will find a very welcomed home among many YA fans and I enjoyed my time spent reading the title.
*I would like to think the author for this copy. The review above is my own, unbiased opinion and experience.