May 31, 2021

Thrive (The Overthrow, Book 3)

(If you haven't, I encourage you to read Bloom and Hatch, Books 1 and 2 in The Overthrow series, first. You'll want to know the whole story. Really.)
Written by Kenneth Oppel
404 pp.
Ages 10-14
May 2021

First there were the black grasses, strangling vines and pit plants (Bloom, 2020). Then came the eggs that developed into mosquito birds, giant water striders and horrific mega-worms (Hatch, 2020). Now, in the conclusion to Kenneth Oppel's The Overthrow trilogy, the cryptogens themselves are coming to invade. But will they succeed in overthrowing humans for the planet?

Being a teen is hard enough but, for Anaya, Petra and Seth who have dealt with strange allergies and physical ailments all their lives, things have gotten a lot stranger since learning that they have cryptogenic DNA that has given them extraordinary powers but also unconventional bodies. Anaya is a runner, with unusual body hair and claws. Petra has an affinity for swimming and has scaly skin and a tail. Seth is a flyer with razor-sharp wings and a powerful sound weapon. During the horrific experimentation on the kids and others like them at the hands of the nasty Dr. Ritter, they learned that they are able to telepathically communicate with each other and Anaya was able to connect with the cryptogen she calls Terra. 
This connection has lead to the arrival of a ship, at the conclusion of Hatch and the beginning of Thrive, from which a trio of rebel cryptogens have emerged. Terra, who is a runner and scientist as well as pilot, is accompanied by another scientist, a swimmer for whom Petra uses the pronouns ze and zir, and a flyer who was a military leader, hence their moniker of him as the general. Together the three cryptogens had formed an alliance, and a rebel movement of several hundred was established to overthrow the flyers who have used their sound power to keep runners and swimmers enslaved to them. 

The rebels admit that Anaya, Petra and Seth, as well as the other hybrid children, had been implanted with DNA to help produce a virus to destroy the flyers' ability to use sound as a weapon and thus to help them defeat their oppressors. Now the rebels have come to earth to retrieve that hidden DNA.
While Petra helps the swimmer to get materials needed to repair their ship and Anaya works with Terra to develop the virus, Seth worries for Esta, a hybrid flyer such as himself, with whom he'd bonded at Dr. Ritter's bunker facility. Learning that Esta, like most hybrid cryptogens, is being detained at an internment camp, Seth sneaks out to rescue her and ends up captured along with Esta and others by the primary ship of invaders. Now Seth has to decide whether he agrees with Esta who believes the cryptogen commander, a flyer, really has their best interests at heart, or whether a rebellion against the flyers is necessary to stop the oppression of the runners and swimmers and an invasion of earth.

Kenneth Oppel pounds out his story of an alien invasion and rebellion with little respite for the reader, just as there was none for the trio of teens who are thrown from one alarming situation to the next. Even before the initial arrival of terrifying plants and menacing creatures, Anaya, Petra and Seth have had to manage their physical stresses. Now with the menace of extraterrestrials, they have to balance being seen as both threats and saviours, and doing what they can, what they want to and what they'd rather not. There's always some new threat with which they must deal and, as they are punched with pressure after pressure, as each new creature and knowledge is revealed, Kenneth Oppel takes the reader with them. As such, Thrive is an intense read, throwing the reader along with the story's characters, from one dangerous situation to the next, manoeuvring on a flying platform, being swallowed by a wall, fighting off a wolverine squid or plunging through the atmosphere in a pod with limited oxygen. The action is relentless and it's not until the very end that Kenneth Oppel lets us know how The Overthrow, the series and the operation, actually turns out. I won't give away the ending but I will reassure that the wild ride that is Thrive leaves room for a sigh and a promise for resolution.
He was half human, half cryptogen, but for the first time in his life, he was starting to feel whole. (pg. 404)

• • • • • • •

The Overthrow (a.k.a. Bloom Trilogy) 
Bloom (2020)
Hatch (2020)
Thrive (2021)

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