Earthfall's author, Mark Walden is best known for his H.I.V.E. ( Higher Institute for Villainous Education) series. I haven't read any of this series so I can not really compare this one to it, but I can compare it to a number of other books. One of the reasons I chose this book is that it is recommended for people who loved Falling Skies and while I'm not usually a big sci-fi fan, I have quite enjoyed this series. It certainly does have some elements of Falling Sky. It also has elements of Taken, Omega Man, The Enemy series and strangely enough the Da Vinci Code. At this point it probably sounds pretty confusing but it works pretty well - for the most part.
It begins with a child running for his life. The terror is written into this very well, and also the utter crushing weight of being totally alone. Sam has not seen another human capable of speech, thought or free will for 18 months. Every other human being has been enslaved by some type of electronic signal which has turned them into mindless slaves for an alien race. They are no threat to Sam - they simply go about there tasks stripping raw material to build whatever it is the aliens are building. But while the mindless throngs of humanity pose no threat - the strange hybrid creatures that are part biological and part mechanical which guard them do.
Sam has survived by staying underground. The sewers beneath London are now his home, venturing above only to forage for supplies in the dark of night - a task which has become more difficult as the hordes of mindless workers have stripped London bare. He is seriously injured early on and forced to go above ground in daylight, and into an area filled with alien activity in the hope of finding antibiotics before the infection raging in his body becomes so bad he can no longer help himself. He is discovered and looks like it's all over for Sam ( except that the main character simply can not die at the beginning of the book). He is saved by two more children and for the first time has hope, not only has his life been spared - but he is not alone.
Sam wakes up some time later in a secret underground lab. The children who saved Sam had been sent to search for him by the only two adults still possessing free will. One of these is a scientist, Dr Stirling and the other a soldier. Dr Stirling has gathered all of the children here - but how has he known how to find each of those who were not affected by the signal? He obviously knows much more about the aliens then he is saying - but he seems kind, he is not forcing the children to stay and he offers food, shelter and safety - but can Sam trust him?
This book certainly has elements of Falling skies as a small human resistance forms to fight against an alien oppressor. It has elements of taken too as the idea of humanity being engineered by aliens will arise. There are slight elements of the Omega Man in the beginning, as Sam struggles to cope with being completely alone, with only books for company. The similarities to the Enemy series lies in the fact that the survivors are youth - and forced to take on adult roles. This book does lack the complexities of Higson's books though. There are no real relationships between the young people, and very limited character development. If I had to describe the children other than Sam my descriptions would be very very limited. Perhaps a name, sex, and what job they have taken. Such as William, lab worker, male. There is nothing else I could tell you about him. I know only slightly more about one of the more major characters - he has dreadlocks and is courageous. The Da Vinci code is most likely the comparison you are wondering the most about - but I am afraid of including any spoilers so I will only say - you'll understand if you read the book.
I enjoyed this book. It is a pleasant light read. There is a reasonable amount of action, and I will try to get my son to give this a try after he finishes his Diary Of Wimpy Kid books. There is nothing in this book to make inappropriate for young readers other than some violence. I think the overall story idea is quite good, but there are gaping plot holes - including some you pilot three 747's through side by side. For instance, it is revealed in the first few pages that Sam's father was one of the scientists involved in studying the aliens. For some reason Sam never puts two and two together and realises this, despite the fact that overheard his father discussing it moments before the alien ships were sighted. Sam's father would obviously have been aware of the base, and the fact that those within it would be looking for Sam. The logical thing to have done would have been to have taken his family to safety, and himself as well - but instead he simply leaves, abandoning his wife and children without even seeking safety for himself. No explanation is ever given. There are other actions that simply do not make sense - and no attempt is made to make sense of them.
I'm sure I have made this story sound weak by now, with the poor character development and holes in the plot. But despite these, this is a very enjoyable book - it has flaws - but when it is good it is very good. I don't want to give too much away, but it does keep hooked as you find out bit by bit just what the scientists were working on before the aliens arrived. This is well presented and quite interesting,and the action scenes are especially well written as well. The book has a nice flow to it, and it is easy to keep track of all the action. It was obvious at the end that a second book was expected, and this is in the works. I will buy it when is released even if my son does not take an interest. I do still want to see what happens next. I will also note that I tend to be a picky reader. This book is intended for younger readers, and it is quite possible they will not notice all the small details as I have. I do feel many adults will still enjoy this, but the target audience is obviously much lower. This a dystopian future book suitable for the younger readers - I would say 8+, but also with plenty to offer an adult or older teen. The reviews for this have all been quite high - and most are from adults.
I would place the reading level of this book as age 8+ as well. The text is larger than many young adult books and this is well spaced. This is ideal for children with dyslexia, but I also feel it is very helpful for children who are still developing skills. The combination of being easier to read than most young adult books, and still having a high interest storyline make this book ideal for children who are learning to read a little bit later than their peers. When children struggle to read - it just isn't as much fun, so I am always happy to see a book with a really high interest storyline which also happens to be easier to read than most.
I have given this 4 stars, but I do still recommend it. An interesting an original tale.