Titan, out now
The Rage is coming – but will those in charge of the Human Sphere understand what they’re dealing with in time?
The second parts of trilogies always have something of an uphill struggle – they’ve got to resolve, or at least move on, some matters from the first book; they have to set everything up for the finale; and they need to be a satisfying read in their own right. Far too often, it’s the last of these three that doesn’t quite come off, but Tim Lebbon achieves it with this second part of his Alien vs Predators trilogy.
This one gets the Alien branding rather than Predator for good cause – if you’ve been missing descriptions of the Xenomorphs in action, or of those preparing to face them, then this is very definitely the book for you, with some quite horrific scenes (and the horror sometimes deriving from what we know is going to happen next even if we don’t actually witness it.)
For those who don’t remember/haven’t yet bought the first story, there’s a good recap at the start that also separately reprises the cliffhanger, although even without it, chances are readers would be able to find their feet quickly thanks to the information Lebbon slots into the text without it feeling like an infodump. We follow various different strands throughout – from the politics of the Human Sphere to those caught at the sharp end of the invasion, both in the military and the civilian population – and Lebbon fleshes out the 27th century universe in some subtle but telling ways.
The book ends on one hell of a cliffhanger and given how Lebbon has demonstrated the power of a Xenomorph army, you do have to wonder what level of devastation is going to be unleashed in the finale in September…
Verdict: A great blend of horror and science fiction – like the two franchises that inspired the novel. 8/10