Monday, June 22, 2020

Mel Todd's Incoming, Allies and Family

I already started reviewing Mel Todd's Kaylid Chronicles. I made a point out of reviewing them one by one. First with No Choice, and then with Commander.

I was going to do the same thing with Incoming, Allies and Family ... but I read them all in one big bite, so here's one review. Screw it, let's hit the fast forward button. We have a series to finish. 

Incoming (Kaylid Chronicles Book 3) by [Mel Todd]Truthfully, one of the reasons I read the last three books in one swell foop is that the story is continuous from Incoming onward. 

At the end of Commander, we had learned that our heroes -- Police officer McKenna Largo and company -- had been turned into shape shifters by nanotechnology, unleashed on the planet by an alien race known as the Elentrin. The plan is simple -- the Elentrin were to come, collect the "inconvenience" of the shape shifters off of our hands, take them away... mind wipe them, and reprogram them for canon fodder in their war of extermination against another alien race.

As I've said before, these guys would be right at home with John Ringo's Darhel from the Posleen wars.

With Incoming, the Elentrin are coming to Earth, and they want their canon fodder. And they want them now.

Again, this one feels a bit like a John Ringo novel. It focuses a lot on how things get done. And how does one prepare for an alien invasion with a two week's notice? Guns. Lots of guns.

Also with we change the format a little. With No Choice, and Commander, the real action takes place in the last third of the novel, kidnapping and forcing our heroes into a situation they don't want to be in. Here, yes, the action is in the last third of the book ... but this time, it's full out alien warfare.

And yes, Incoming has all of the smart choices and intelligence observations that I've come to expect from Mel Todd.

5/5, easy.

Allies (Kaylid Chronicles Book 4) by [Mel Todd]Next, we have Allies.

The Elentrin have come to earth. What was supposed to be a cakewalk for them has turned into a pitched battle. And the Elentrin are either going to win, or they're going to drop asteroids on Earth out of spite.

But now, Earth has a new card up its sleeve -- the Drakyn, the aliens the Elentrin want to exterminate, have come to the aid of humans. The Drakyn come with intelligence and knowledge that are invaluable to winning ... if they can be in a position to use it. 

Problem: the Drakyn don't have weapons. Or ships. Or troops....

But the Drakyn are thinking with portals. The problem? Earth only has days to draw up and execute a plan to strike back before the asteroids hit. And, of course, our protagonists must lead the way. 

Also, it's revealed that our heroes are Dragonborn... okay, you had to be there.

Allies is a good, hefty chunk of action, and the emphasis on "how things get done" is spread out more evenly throughout the novel. The action breaks up these scenes. To some degree, the action carries these scenes.

Again, 5/5. 

Family (Kaylid Chronicles Book 5) by [Mel Todd]
Then there's this last one, Family

It feels very much like it should have been one of Mel's novellas-- side stories that she made for the world, exploring events outside of the view of McKenna Largo, our primary character (and, I assume, originally a first person POV narrator, but that's a guess on my part). 

There is one thing that irks me about the entire series. Family feels unnecessary. We could have ended the series with Allies. This one is a 3/5 than a 5/5. It feels rushed, as though Family was supposed to be a novella, and it turned into a conclusion because Mel had better things to do. 

Keep in mind the entire series (five books and four novellas) takes place in less than six months. Probably closer to four and a half. And some of the plot points in Family feels like Mel wanted to go from Point T to Point Z and rushed it. The worst part might be that one of the primary antagonists for the entire series has little to no interaction with our heroes, he's been a running threat from the shadows, and the series ends with him twirling his mustache.

The best part of this one is, again, logistics -- this time the logistics of visiting another planet. It's a long story, and plenty of spoilers, so I won't go into too many details. Here, again, Mel Todd excels.

Personally, I'd suggest getting the bundle, but hold off on reading Family until / if Mel ever gets around to doing a sequel series that deals with this secondary villain, then read Family and keep going. But all in all, the entire series is solid. There isn't even a misstep in the entire series, except the last book.

And buying the five in one pack gives you a massive discount over buying the series solo, even if you don't read Family. But if you've bought it, you can give even the last part a try.

But at the end of the day, this series is amazing. I wish I had read them when they first came out, I would have suggested at least one for a Dragon award.

Speaking of which, please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards, and be certain to vote for Deus Vult for best horror.


  1. Read them all; just finished the series. I agree with your observations by and large--it was pretty annoying to simply end the series with the running antagonist villain orchestrating trouble on Earth by twirling his mustache. He was one I was looking forward to getting a solid boot to the head, or at the very least end in some kind of funny feud with someone equally stubborn and resourceful.
    I also have another observation, though: that as the series went on I found its secular/progressive leanings more irritating. Probably 80+ percent of the time a religion is mentioned, it's in a negative light because it condemns the Shifters as evil abominations. And the author casually mentions a few things that are bad ideas, like having group families or temporary marriages. (Mormons mean anything to her?) Ironically, the historic arrangements of small villages where everyone knew everyone else would provide the constant companionship she wants without introducing serious strife from group marriages or whatever the author is imagining. It could be just me, but it also felt like some of the things were a little too Utopian pipe-dream to be real; some of the things discussed in the last two books felt too much like a secular substitute for Heaven--living more or less forever in an environmentally-friendly paradise.
    But the action and plotting was done quite well by and large, with suspense, realism, and good action.

  2. The other thing that occurred to me after thinking about it more is that it's kind of disappointing that the main conflict stems entirely from raaaacism. I mean, some group went to insane lengths to fight against people that they'd formerly never picked a fight with. It just feels too much like today's political climate in which racism is seen as the most heinous crime ever, and a debate-ending insult.


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