Friday, February 28, 2014

Early Review & Interview: Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine

Title: Scan
Authors: Walter Jury, Sarah Fine
Publisher: Penguin
Source:  Publisher
Expected Pub: May 1, 2014

Pre-order: Amazon  |  B&N

From Goodreads:

Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans. 

All Tate knows--like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid--may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.


16-year-old Tate Archer is fed up with his dad’s irrational expectations and the demanding schedule he has to adhere to.  The extra studies, the perfectly proportioned nutritional meals, the intense training, and the protein supplements – all because he must prepare for something important… his purpose.  But that’s the only information he can get out of his father. It’s hard to care about your “purpose” when you don’t know what it is. So when Tate broke into his dad’s lab and stole his latest invention, some kind of wand scanner… he could have never imagined the kind of mayhem he was about to create. Thus begins a terrifying journey that has Tate on the run and unable to trust anyone. 

This was a very different read from my usual fare, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  The book is being described as “MacGyver meets War of the Worlds” -- and how apt that description is! I’d also throw in Abduction because, aside from the discovery of H2, Tate and Christina are now two teens on the run; and everyone they come face to face with appears to be untrustworthy or potential adversaries. Though the comparisons to the works above are fitting, make no mistake this is an original story that stands on its own. There is serious heart-pounding action in this first installment! 

Tate is a great MC.  He’s very relatable, and I love how brilliant this young guy is! His MacGyver-like inventions are so much fun to read about (I'll never look at oranges the same way again)!  Tate’s relationship with his parents, especially the intense one he shares with his father, is heartbreaking at times.  He starts out as a seemingly angry young man but really experiences tremendous character growth along the way.  I love how tender he is with Christina, and his inner thoughts are especially endearing. 

Scan is a thrilling, action-packed read with a boy genius who is not only strong and capable, but can turn on the charm and isn’t afraid to show his sensitive side. 

My Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Michele:  I want to start by saying how much I thoroughly enjoyed Scan!  For someone who doesn’t read sci-fi and had nightmares after seeing E.T. as a child… I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this story! What was the inspiration behind this electrifying alien thriller?

Walter: Just after the release of COWBOYS & ALIENS, I read a dissection of the film and its difficulty attracting mass appeal on  It got my wheels turning about the prospect of aliens arriving on Earth prior to the advent of modern technology.  More pointedly, what if aliens had arrived, unnoticed and blended into our world with few humans ever realizing their existence.  I personally am attracted to grounded stories, so it was important to me that the story remained and took place in our world today, with the mythology we built around it.  

Michele: Scan is described as “MacGyver meets War of the Worlds,” and I couldn’t agree more.  My favorite aspect of the story is how ingenious and crafty Tate is. I will never look at oranges or tennis balls the same way again. Tate’s inventions seem to be based on scientific principles… but just how accurate are his homemade diversions?  Do I need to keep my nail polish remover and hydrogen peroxide on opposite ends of the house?

Sarah: I consulted with a chemistry professor who gave me some ideas for creating plausible but dramatic chemical diversions. I also did a ton of research on Youtube (if you search for nitrogen triiodide, for example, you'll see some dramatic results!) I did use some creative license--this is fiction, after all--but the vast majority of the stuff Tate brews up in the book is legit ... and should NEVER be tried at home.

Michele:  I really felt for Tate because of his regimented schedule and terse relationship with his father – but even more so since this whole intergalactic disaster was due in part to Tate “borrowing” his dad’s latest invention and taking it to school. Because of that, Tate is dealing with a lot of guilt and there’s no time to process his feelings.  What toll is that going to take on our young hero?

Walter&Sarah:  For Tate, he has to process his entire world being turned upside down based on a seemingly innocuous act of rebellion.  One minute, he's a normal teen living his life and arguing with his strict parent, and the next, he's on the run, having experienced horrific trauma and the deep sadness of losing the person who has most shaped who he is.  It's a lot to deal with, but luckily Fred spent his life preparing him for not just the physical hurdles, but the mental adversity that he is to experience.  It's just that preparation that he wanted to rebel against that makes him stronger.  Colin Cowherd from ESPN Radio once said (to paraphrase), "Nobody ever gets old and tells their parent that they were too tough on them."  Tate is going to have to realize and apply that same lesson. 

Michele:  Finding out that there are aliens – or H2, as they are referred to in this story – walking among us is not my idea of a happy surprise (I mean… I saw Independence Day).  Realizing that they now outnumber the humans and hold very important and powerful positions in our country is petrifying!  Why would the Fifty keep this information so guarded even from many H2 themselves?

Walter&Sarah:  Without giving away any major plot points from the sequel, BURN, this answer will have to be a bit vague. The universe is a complex place.  And the H2 thought out their place in the universe very carefully, and as we see in our everyday life, nobody agrees on everything (no need to look further than our current government in DC).  Sometimes secrets are guarded and held for different reasons.  

Michele:  Some of the scenarios Tate finds himself in are frightening to say the least – but for this reader, the scariest stop on his adventure was a place where he sought refuge.  Can you give us some insight into Rufus and the fortress he created for the Bishops?

Walter&Sarah: Rufus is a true extremist in this world.  He and the Bishops believe what they believe, and no science, experience or anything else is going to change their minds.  There is a very relatable element to the Bishops, that might not have been the case a decade ago if that is when we had written SCAN. Today, we have the internet bringing viewpoints and perspectives from around the country and the world closer than ever.  We see levels of extremism that would have been tough to believe prior to social media shedding light on different viewpoints as it does today.  Rufus and his family are inspired by that type of insight.  

Michele: Tate is a character who’s easy to love.  He’s tough and brilliant, but he also shares some very tender moments with Christina.  Since Tate’s parents come across as pretty reserved, where does this romantic side to Tate come from; and how important is it to have a character who’s badass but also swoon-worthy?

Walter&Sarah:  Beneath all of Fred's tough-minded tutelage, Tate is a good kid with a big heart.  And because he is so disciplined, he can love and truly be proud of himself, in spite of the tough love he receives at home.  It's been said before that to love others, you must love yourself.  Tate may not always realize it, but his self-confidence and discipline is what makes him who he is, which includes being a brilliant, badass swoon-worthy protagonist! 

Michele:  I’d like to talk about Tate’s dad, Frederick Archer.  Along with the shock of discovering that Tate had broken into his lab so easily, I thought I detected some serious pride for his son. After chaos erupts, Fred regrets not cluing Tate in to their family responsibility sooner. But do you think he regrets ever inventing the scanner in the first place, even if he’d hoped it would prevent devastating casualties?

Walter&Sarah:  Fred understands his legacy and his importance to contributing to the Archer family knowledge base.  He would never regret inventing the scanner or anything he has created--he wasn't inventing a bomb or some contraption of mass destruction that could ruin mankind.  He took his role in advancing science seriously, and this is something important to build upon. 

Michele:  I would love to see Scan made into a film and Tate and all his resourcefulness come to life. One of the co-authors of this story is a producer for a film this year that I’m very much anticipating (but I won’t “diverge” the title here), so what are your feelings on Scan being made into a movie?

Walter: This is one we are going to take our time to decide.  As we have seen in recent history, film and TV adaptations must be nurtured and in the right hands, at the right time, in order to continue to contribute positively to the fanbase.  Many projects are optioned, but few ever see the front of a camera lens.  So we will take this slowly and keep quality as our primary motivating factor should a great opportunity arise. 

Michele:  That ending really sets up the sequel nicely!  And by nicely, I mean how could you leave me hanging like that??? Any chance you’d want to give us a little tease or sneak peek into what’s next for Tate in the second installment, Burn?

Walter&Sarah:  We have to be very careful about what we share since it's so early. This is the info we can share though: more secrets revealed, more MacGyver-like maneuvers, and definitely more action!

Thank you for stopping by and chatting with us.  I can’t wait for more of this exciting and thrilling story!


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