Most teens feel alienated from time to time. But Sam Kahu is more alienated than most. For a start his home has burned down and all his friends and family are missing presumed dead. Worse, he knows they are out to get him, and if he doesn't successfully hide within the system he could find himself inside a UFO having his brain dissected. More
Sam Kahu, 14, has been haunted all his life. First by his dead mother, then by his very alive and dangerous father. But now the young Maori has more pressing problems: his home has burned down and all his friends, and remaining family have vanished in mysterious circumstances.
The police have a lot of questions because his home was a large mansion on a remote island, and the man who leased it - Dr Gennady Prosperov a Russian millionaire - has a history of dodgy financial trading, and a certain fascination for UFOs.
But two things are more interesting to Sam at the moment. The first is that the young policewoman opposite him has no idea that her lover has dumped her and she is about to suffer terrible heartbreak, and the second is that it won't be long before they send agents to try and abduct him and extract the incredible secrets in his brain.
For Sam although Sam is a teenager with family, bully, and girlfriend problems, he is also a Changel; one of six psychic teens, trained and equipped to find and safeguard the future leaders of our planet, in the world's most dangerous places.
Nor is Sam's life, riven by gangs and death, all that remarkable compared to the others. Tarik Gursoy is a Kurd, on the run from Ergenekon, the secretive Turkish deep state; Ashley Robinson's world was torn in half by Hurricane Katrina and the Sinaloa drugs cartel; Tahira Khadem had to flee Iran when her father was judicially murdered for being Baha'i; Scott Khumalo's blended family has escaped Zimbabwe; and Cam Tran, the Vietnamese boat child lost her mother to pirates in the South China Sea.
But it is not the obvious dangers of life on Earth which threaten Sam and his friends. For as they have searched the world they have discovered there are others here too. Others with different agendas, and they are decidely not friendly.
Initiation is part one of Changels Genesis and not a complete story. Changels Genesis is a single 1,900 page story in six book-sized parts. Each part is not a self-contained story but a part of the organic whole. I liken the read to climbing a mountain rather than running over a series of hills. There are steep scary parts and there are gentle hidden valleys. There is excitement but also views and flowers on the way. Only as you reach the summit does the scale of the whole become fully apparent, making the base jump at the end all the more fun.