I have a new favorite YA book, and it is Zenn Scarlett.
Author Christian Schoon has created such a remarkable young girl and a very real, gritty future on Mars. But perhaps most amazing is he created a job market that seems so natural, so real, that it made complete and total sense. Zenn is in training to be a veterinarian for alien fauna.
Every alien detail seems so natural and well considered that it strikes the reader as perfectly real. The animals are just alien enough to not be of this earth, but real enough that we believe they might really exist somewhere.
The struggles for the training center where Zenn works (struggles with teaching novices, struggles paying bills, struggles retaining clients) all seem so spot on. And yet this reality doesn’t overwhelm the story — it simply adds credence to it.
Zenn is a wonderful character. A teenage girl who loves the work she does with animals. Her experiences with the animals and her special ability that no one really believes (there’s the typical YA aspect … a teen with an ability no one believes in) are engrossing and make me want to keep reading her story. Her ‘discovery’ of boys also seems perfectly described. In fact, I had to do a little research on the author because he wrote so well about teen girls that I wondered if it might not be a female author.
The back story with her parents is well-teased. We get just enough to keep wanting to learn more. Though judging by what we do learn, this clearly is what will lead to the sequel(s).
The other characters are all well fleshed out and appear to be characters rather than caricatures.
Two comments on specific items…
1) thank you, Christain Schoon for the correct use of “jerry rigged.” Too often I see it written as “jury rigged” which has a completely different meaning. “Jerry-built” or “jerry-rigged” refers to inferior workmanship or materials or to build haphazardly with available materials. “Jury-rigged” is to affect the outcome or decision of something by tampering (usually illegally). I can’t remember the last time I saw it written correctly in a book!
2) I feel I must have missed something — about 12% of the way in to the book (yes, I read it on my Kindle), Zenn gets a pet. Zenn squeals loudly and the animal reacts. Less than a page later, we learn that the animal is deaf, and Zenn even comments to herself about talking to the animal when it can’t hear. So…why did the animal react to Zenn’s squeal if it was deaf? Okay… there could be a number of reasons, but as this was our introduction to the animal and nothing was said about sensing vibrations or emotions or anything else, it would only clearly have reacted to the sound of the squeal … yet it couldn’t have … it’s deaf….
One thing that I mentioned in the past… I do not like a book that does not read as a complete book (unless it’s clear from the start that I’m reading the first book in a series and I will need to read the others to complete the story. This book is border-line in that sense. There are some questions that get raised that are not answered, but I sense will be addressed in future books. However, the basic story does seem to be resolved, but I’m left feeling not completely satisfied with the over-all arcing story.
That said, this is definitely a book to read.
Looking for a good book? This is tremendous YA Sci-fi!
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author: Christian Schoon
publisher: Strange Chemistry
paperback, 304 pages