Title: Alien: Invasion (The Rage War #2)
Author: Tim Lebbon
RRP: £7.99 (Paperback)
Publisher: Titan Books
Book cover Image © Copyright Titan Books
For centuries Weyland-Yutani has tried to weaponize the aliens. Now someone has beaten them to it, sweeping through Yautja space and turning predator into prey. Faced with the overwhelming forces of the Rage, Earth envoys forge an unprecedented alliance with the Predators. Yet even the combined might of two races may not be enough to stop the carnage, as an unstoppable swarm of Xenomorphs topples planet after planet, penetrating ever deeper into the Human Sphere.
A small element missing from the blurb above is the paragraph stating that Alien: Invasion carries on from Predator: Incursion and sets things up for Alien Vs. Predator: Armageddon. With that in mind comes the usual fear of the strange malady that effects many “middle” books or films in a trilogy, that of simply being there to build and not really grant the reader much of a pay-off. Alien: Invasion fares quite well, the reader being able to spend more time with the characters from the previous book, but in some ways, the “middle” effect does grab hold of the paper and teeth-punches its way from front cover to back.
It is a good book and a fine dose of xenomorph and predator (Yautja)-based peril however, the uneasy truce between the Yautja and the humans a slender thread of hope for humanity as The Rage penetrate deeply into the Human Sphere, their weaponised xenomorph army and highly advanced spaceships easily tearing through the Colonial Marines and capturing the valuable dropholes that are so key to the prosperity and safety of human advancement.
Leader of the VoidLarks Johnny Mains gets out of the sticky situation where his death appears to come slinking toward him at the end of book one, his one surviving soldier, Lieder, sharing the threat with him, both preparing to suicide as the insect-like xenos make an attack.
Isa Palant, the ‘Yautja Woman’ who was so instrumental in bringing the human/predator alliance about, is still having nightmares about meeting a Yautja face to face. She is also suffering with a bleed on the brain, a condition that makes drophole travel very dangerous, keeping her, and her friends and protectors in the guise of Milt McIlveen, Akoko Halley and her squad, trapped on a base on LV-1657 while her condition is treated.
Rage-defectee android Liliya and the Yautja Hashori have been travelling for some time in Hashori’s cramped ship, trying to keep ahead of The Rage. Liliya takes this time to try to heal up from the tortures Hashori inflicted on her in the first book, before a common enemy united the pair. They find themselves heading to space station Hell, the run-down home to all manner of people, both law-abiding and otherwise. It is there that their paths cross with the mysterious Jiango Tann and his wife, two people who seem to have some knowledge of the company and its drive and hunger towards its own acquirement and use of weaponised xenomorphs.
As in the previous book, each chapter is titled by the name of the character it focusses on, and as before, this is a pleasing way to follow the narrative, no location or character really given enough time to become boring before changing POV once more. One early chapter is chillingly titled Victims, and, in a perverse way, lets you kind of enjoy the carnage the xenomorphs can cause as the book focusses on characters whose life expectancy tends to zero rather quickly.
One section of the book that I did find a little bit irritating was when Johnny Mains and Isa Palant both, quite separately, end up exploring enemy spaceships at the same time. Now, in the universe of Alien and Predator, I know that creeping through metal corridors with the blip-blip of motion trackers and jumping at every metallic creak, is part and parcel of things. I enjoy the mental images very much. In this section however, I found that moving my focus from one character struggling on a strange ship to another doing the same, a bit of a pain. Each is with different people and, as you would hope, things go differently on each ship. I followed events okay, I just felt it all merged into a dark mush rather than having impact, with myself at least. A minor complaint though.
Alien: Invasion is another great dose of the hostile universe in which humanity brushes up against the monsters of nightmare. It’s great to see how the characters continue on from their scrapes with death in the first book, and it does set up the next book quite well. On the other hand, it lacks the freshness of the first book, the mystery of what is going on, and can only expand on things and reveal a few more things, but none, for me, seemed to have the wow factor of the first book. Hopefully, Alien Vs Predator: Armageddon will fire a hot ball of plasma into proceedings and end on a finale fitting of the word “Armageddon”.
G.S Rating: 3.5/5
G.S Reviewer: Casey Douglass