REVIEW: Invaded by Aria Adams

Aspen: I was stripped and put in a cell with a huge alien. He has been driven over the edge. He wants to kill me, but first he wants to destroy my mind. I can’t give him a reason not to, but I won’t go down without a fight. He invades every part of me, forces me to call him Master, and subjects me to his mind control. I have nothing left to lose. He thinks he can break me. Can you break something that’s as wrecked as I am?

Keth: Humans have taken everything from me: My home, my family, my wife, and they want to take my sanity. They’re afraid of me. Grande Pharma imprisoned me and subjected me to tests. They gave me mind control. But they hadn’t banked on me running my own psychological tests. My hypothesis was simple: What would it take to break the human women who kept getting sent in here to seduce me for information? I take them apart, piece by piece. Revel in destroying them. But Aspen is different. She’s feisty and resistant. Breaking her will be satisfying. But will she break me, first?

Warnings: Noncon, violence, mind control

Category: M/F

Invaded is the first in the Unbreakable series of dark sci-fi romance novels. It’s a pretty standard formula driven erotica, featuring a dystopic government and some human/alien racial tensions. It’s fun if it’s what you’re looking for, and it is pretty much just what’s on the tin.

Well written and engaging, the story follows two individuals being held captive by the governing Grande Pharma companies that rule the Stack with an iron fist, keeping the population in a constant state of oppression. Keth is a captive alien, tortured and interrogated for information. Aspen is a young woman who ran afoul of the powers that be and is now placed in Keth’s prison cell for… unknown reasons. Keth assumes she is a spy sent to soften him up, and so their relationship is fraught with turmoil before they manage to learn more about each other. There’s really not a lot that is surprising here, no twists that you won’t see coming, and overall the story seems pretty generic and tropey, but if its tropes that you happen to like and gravitate to, it likely won’t disappoint.

The narrative does a lot to try to attach you to both of the character’s viewpoints and personalities. Both of them of course have substantial trauma around the experience of living under an oppressive system. Keth’s people have been hunted by Big Pharma while humans have been subjugated. Keth is understandably angry and bitter, while Aspen is a plucky survivor. Their relationship however feels a bit phoned in, and it’s unclear why they start to develop feelings for each other, and it’s especially uncomfortably how much of Keth’s torture and rape of her Aspen is willing to overlook because of his trauma. It’s a very typical “he seems awful at first but underneath it all was just misunderstood” bad boy trope but here it feels especially squicky to me due to how Aspen doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal that he raped her. I also don’t really buy how quickly she seems to give in to him either, all together their relationship seems rather rushed.

Some interesting worldbuilding happening here- we have humans who have colonized this alien planet, under the rule of Big Pharma, which has created a kind of skyscraper city known as The Stack, which is a huge building with the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom ala Snowpiercer, and they run pharmaceutical experiments on the lower levels, and create the diseases that they then sell vaccinations for. On its own that’s an interesting dystopia concept, but in 2022 where conspiracy theories are running rampant, it feels a bit uncomfortably close to anti-vaxx conspiracy theories. There’s also an alien race that are being hunted to extinction by the ruling class of humanity, with the alien species very obviously being Indigenous-coded. The aliens are interesting, they have psychic mind control powers, but they aren’t enough different from humans in any real big biological way for me to find them as compelling as they could be.

The sex here is brutal! If you’re looking for hardcore noncon and anal content, this will be right up your (back) alley. Haha. I know I’ve often criticized other books for content being too soft or vanilla for me, but this actually ended up on the other side of the spectrum for my personal tastes- I like noncon content just fine but this kind of “he’s raping her because he hates her” stuff tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth, paired with how hand-waved aside it all is by Aspen afterwards, unfortunately didn’t hit my buttons. But if those aren’t dealbreakers for you I will say it is well written and full of a visceral emotional quality. I like my baddies to do what they do because they enjoy it, being sadistic bastards, not out of this sort of anger and revenge, so take from that what you will.

This book wasn’t really my speed, but it might be yours. It isn’t a style that I particularly like, so I will not be reading farther. It’s pretty formulaic and if that’s what your looking for by all means give it a shot.

Have you read Invaded? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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