Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that K.A. Applegate might be the only sci-fi writer EVER who both (a) condemns the mass killing of aliens even if they are attacking the earth AND (b) shows why it’s sort of necessary in the situation?
It seems like too many other sci-fi stories go the route of Avengers or Doctor Who (S1) or Independence Day where a protagonist wiping out thousands of aliens is portrayed as uncomplicated heroism and we all celebrate at the end. Either that or they go the route of Avatar the Last Airbender (S3) or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (S5) where the characters that don’t want to engage in violence don’t have to get their hands dirty because a deus ex machina comes along and prevents that from having to happen. In both cases doing the right thing is also a matter of doing the easy thing.
Applegate, by contrast, doesn’t let her characters get away with an uncomplicated happy ending. She doesn’t say “they were aliens so it’s okay to kill them,” and she doesn’t offer them a third way out of their impossible choice. She gets into the hell that is war and doesn’t use the sci-fi genre to let her gloss over the dirty details.