October 02, 2020


Written by Kenneth Oppel
HarperCollins Canada
416 pp.
Ages 10-14
September 2020
When readers first met Anaya, Petra and Seth in Bloom, Book 1 in Kenneth Oppel's The Overthrow trilogy, the three teens were helping to battle an alien invasion of plants–black grass, vines and pit plants–that threatened their community on Salt Spring Island and around the world. They had also discovered that they all dreamed of special powers–running, swimming and flying, respectively–that corresponded with the unusual growths that had plagued their bodies, namely claws and excessive hair for Anaya, a tail and scaly skin on Petra, and bony growths akin to wings for Seth.  Now a new threat has arrived.

From a weird rain that deposits eggs, strange new creatures develop that Dr. Weber and the others look to study. But then the military, as led by Colonel Pearson alongside the new Dr. Ritter, having learned of the kids' cryptogenic DNA, announce that brain scans reveal transmitters in their brains, and fear that they have been communicating with the cryptogens who intend to invade. The kids are "detained as a threat to national security under the War Measures Act" (pg. 33) at a secret underground bunker with other young hybrids who are numbered and classified as runners, swimmers and flyers. 
This did not seem like a good sign. If you gave someone a number, it was because you were taking away their home. And once you took away someone's home, it was a lot easier to take away whatever you wanted. (pg. 41)
Under the direction of Dr. Ritter, the young people are measured and tested and drilled to develop their skills. Meanwhile, Anaya, Petra and Seth make new friends within their groupings, with Petra meeting the muscular Darren who is convinced they are being trained to be soldiers and Anaya making the acquaintance of the brilliant Charles. But it's Seth fraternization with the quiet Esta that becomes the most intense, as he makes a real connection with her though she evokes dissension between the friends with claims of the flyers' superiority.

But everything changes when Anaya is taken to the surface and allowed to connect with the cryptogens to pinpoint their location. Instead she learns that they can communicate telepathically and she is able to do so with a cryptogen, learning why they are targeting Earth and involving the hybrids.

Kenneth Oppel got our attention with Bloom but he keeps us breathless with the unrelenting action in Hatch. From dealing with dangerous and toxic plants to evolving insects of massive destruction force (the worm has a mouth with "spiraling blades that looked like the turbine of a drilling machine"; pg. 10) and the protagonists learning more about their capabilities, and sadly also their shocking predilections, Hatch reveals a precarious world where aliens i.e., cryptogens look to communicate with humans through hybrid beings like Anaya, Petra and Seth. But who is friend and who is foe both on earth and from other worlds is ever-changing and poses problems for all as the kids try to do the right thing for their families, communities, planet and themselves.

Hatch, as did Bloom, brings one story to an end but introduces a new one with its last words. When the third book in the trilogy, Thrive, finally drops in May 2021, we hope Kenneth Oppel will finally share with young readers the true nature of the aliens and whether they, or even some of them, offer hope or harm. Eight months seems almost too long to wait when the world is in the balance because of an alien invasion.

The Overthrow series from Kenneth Oppel:
Bloom (February 2020)
Hatch (September 2020)
Thrive (May 2021)

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