Rich Larson’s ‘Annex’ marks energetic debut, plus more science fiction reviewed

Rich Larson’s ‘Annex’ marks energetic debut, plus more science fiction reviewed
23 Jul

“Annex” by Rich Larson, Orbit, 368 pages, $15.99

This first novel from Rich Larson, a young writer who has already earned a strong reputation for short fiction, borrows some features from the alien invasion tale, some from teen dystopias, some from zombie movies and even some from “Peter Pan.” If that sounds like something of a mashup, Larson manages to weave all this into an energetic, nonstop adventure that’s thoroughly his own, mostly because of an appealing cast of young protagonists, led by the street-smart Violet. As a trans teenager, Violet had to learn survival strategies long before the aliens arrive.

And when they do arrive, it’s in spectacular and ruthless fashion. A gigantic spacecraft blots out the entire sky above the city, and in short order, the adults get fitted out with neck clamps that turn them into virtual zombies, while kids are trapped in warehouses and implanted with parasites whose purpose only becomes apparent later. Violet runs with a group of free kids, calling themselves Lost Boys and hiding out in a local theater under the charismatic leadership of a boy named Wyatt.

The kids begin to organize a resistance, aided by some newly discovered almost magical powers and, eventually, by a wonderfully weird alien called Gloom, but they also face treachery among themselves. While “Annex” is a solid adventure by itself, it’s also the beginning of a trilogy, and most readers will be eager to see where volume two leads.



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