Forcibly conscripted into an alien training program as a child, nineteen-year-old Sam Locklear has grown up on an alien planet. Smart and charismatic, he has become one of their favorite cadets, but although he's come to trust a few of the aliens, he isn't blind to their harsh treatment of Earth.
Now he's on his way back to Earth to work in their Los Angeles headquarters, and to find the line between being used... and using them.
When Sam's homecoming speech sets off a string of violence, he realizes his words carry more weight than he realized. First there's a hate message scrawled in blood, then a drive-by attack, and a riot that ends in fire. When Sam's girlfriend is abducted, he'll dare anything to get to the bottom of the intrigue surrounding the cadet program.
From the streets of Los Angeles to a treacherous space station, Sam must uncover the real enemy threatening his life, and just what kind of sanity is requred for the earth's survival.
©2012 Corrie Garrett (P)2013 Corrie Garrett
Garrett's premise for Manipulate: Alien Cadets is straightforward - Earth is being judged for entrance to the galactic organization of sentient species. If they make it, they will be treated as equals; if they don't, then Earth is fair game for any other sentient race to use as they see fit. Earth is on probation and their "sponsor," an alien race has forcibly removed Earth children for "cadet" training. The story begins with the cadets coming home and preparing for the hearing that will determine their fate. At this point, mysterious happenings occur to the cadets that threatens Earth's future.
Overall, the story is engaging with good pacing throughout. The sci-fi elements are standard fare with alien capable space travel and the use of neural tissue for space navigation. The characters are respectable; however, the aliens are not very imaginative. Weak elements include rather unsophisticated aliens who can't recognize subterfuge as well as lack of motivation on the part of specific characters for their actions. All the secrecy that was maintained was essentially pointless.
The narration is well done with a great range that includes multiple alien races.
You see that, I rhymed my headline - impressed? Anyway, after reading the summary I really thought I would enjoy this book but honestly it didn't do all that much for me. At first glance this book reminded me a lot of "Forging Zero"( which I really liked) so I thought what the hell, sounds good, I'll give it a shot - I chose poorly. Don't get me wrong, it's a very well written "Alien Invasion" story and the characters are well developed but after finishing the book I thought it was just a little too "Y.A.-ish" for my taste. If I had to describe this book to someone I would say that "Manipulate" is "Forging Zero's" virgin little brother with the latter being more violent and gritty. I still gave "Manipulate" a 4 star rating because I cannot give a bad rating to a book for something that's my fault - I knew it was geared for a younger audience going in and I purchased it anyway. Look, it's a really good book, just not dark enough for me.
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