Seventeen-year-old Max has always felt like an outsider. When the agonizing apocalyptic visions begin, he decides suicide is his only escape. He soon finds himself in an institution under the guidance of a therapist who sees something exceptional in him. Just as he begins to leave the hallucinations behind, Max discovers the visions weren’t just in his head.
There are three others who have shared those same thoughts and they’ve been searching for Max. Like him, they are something more than human. Each of them possesses certain abilities, which they’re going to need when a covert military group begins hunting them down.
As the danger escalates, Max doesn’t know which side to trust. But in the end, his choice will decide the fate of both species.
My initial thoughts after finishing this were: interesting concept, solid writing, but ultimately forgettable. The Enemy Within tells the story of Max, a teenage boy plagued by visions of burning cities. After attempting suicide he is placed in a psychiatric ward, convinced he is insane. It is not until three other characters break him out does he realize that there may be some truth to his violent visions. As Max learns more about his origin and his importance in the upcoming conflict, he struggles with making the ‘right’ decision.
After finishing this book and sitting on it for a while, I think the concept itself was very clever. As a reader, I felt very torn between the decisions Max had to make and what it would mean for the fate of the world he was living in. I am always excited to delve into science fiction books because it is not a genre I am quite as familiar with, but typically thoroughly enjoy. I also appreciated the alternating points of view between Max and the ‘covert military group’ mentioned in the synopsis. As the reader, we are able to see the entire situation from a bird’s eye view and understand both sides.
My biggest problem with this book unfortunately significantly impacted my overall enjoyment of the story: the character development. Let me explain. As many of you know, I read a lot. I’ve read plenty of adult books, classics and obviously, young adult. There is a reason I always come back to young adult books and I’ve realized it really comes down to one thing: the characters. I read YA because I want to love my characters. I want to be happy, devastated and swooning right along with them. While I appreciated the concept in this book, I did not care about the characters at all. The writing style made me feel detached and uninterested in the fate of any of them. Don’t get me wrong- the writing was good, but distant from the characters.
The world-building was also lacking in my opinion. Significant events happened, strange abilities emerged and there was almost no explanation for any of it. I could never fully visualize Max’s ability or why the ‘burning’ was so detrimental to the four main characters. I wish the author explained more about Max’s origin and the mysterious “Eye” other than it being a seemingly all-knowing machine.
However, this book was very fast-paced and a quick read. Where it lacked in character development and world-building it made up for in nonstop action. I also wonder if maybe I am not the right reader for this type of book- I always prefer character driven to purely plot driven books. Overall, The Enemy Within presented an interesting dilemma in this sci-fi YA book but I still didn’t love it. I encourage you to check it out if you enjoy a plot driven, sci-book that will definitely make you think about the conclusion, but it unfortunately wasn’t for me.