Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review - Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

I read it between August and September this year, before I started this blog, and posted the review on Goodreads. Since I'm not a very fast reader, I'm going to occasionally blog about my older reviews to keep it more active here. So here we go...

Genres: YA / Sci-Fi
Length: 304 pages
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she's learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she's feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn't enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she's started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can't deny what she's feeling.

Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what's happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she's actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients... or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year...

My review:
Zenn Scarlett is a book I won from a blog giveaway hosted by Escapism from Reality, and I really want to thank them for it! I absolutely love the cover (and I'm curious, what is that in the bottom left corner exactly?), plus the summary sounded promising, too. Still, I was not so sure what I'd think of it once I have it finished. After reading both positive and negative reviews, I had my doubts.

I shouldn't have worried. Not even once did this book leave me bored and waiting for a more action-packed scene. True, most of it was about Zenn's life and duties at the cloister, but I didn't mind. I loved reading about this scientific world full of aliens and their amazing, scary, cute and even scarier animals. I kind of liked how these Martian colonies were described as poor and old-ish, not how we like to imagine the future of space travelling - high tech and all oh-so-happy. I only wish we could've got some more descriptions of the animals' appearances. Most of the time I wasn't at all sure what they should look like.

Of course, the fact how narrow-minded most people were in this sci-fi world annoyed me quite a bit, but it somehow made the book more realistic. So to be clear, it were the people that annoyed me, not the story. But Zenn and her Rule - now that was something I at first disliked about the book as whole. I just couldn't comprehend how someone can be so blind and think that all the joy of having friends means nothing because of the inevitable pain they are sure to bring. How could a young person like her set herself such strict restrictions? ... And then I suddenly realized something. I came to think that honestly, I'm not much different myself. Always being sensitive and sad because feeling left out, unnoticed and invisible, 'friends' turning away as soon as they find someone more interesting to talk to (this does not concern everyone)... In the end, not so long ago, I discovered a way to deal with it that did not cause me to feel pain. That being: not getting attached. Respecting people, but not letting them too close. Because when they unintentionally (or intentionally) betray my expectations, I don't have to feel hurt or in any way affected, I don't have to hate them for it or create a huge distance between us. And in all honesty, I'm very content with things being as they are. This way I realized that what Zenn did was not at all absurd (although the book didn't leave it seem as if she had everything thought through). But Zenn wasn't actually scared of talking to people, so that makes us different.

I realized quickly who was behind everything that had happened; it was quite obvious. Perhaps it wasn't even meant to be such a big secret. And although it might seem like Zenn was stupid for not figuring it out sooner, I say Zenn wasn't. I just love how well Schoon described people's relationships and understandings. I realized exactly why things turned clear when they did.

It's rare to find books of such genre by a male author, and from my experience, they tend to be so much better than YA books by female authors. There were hints of romance, but no insta-love, dreamy teen blabber and other sappy love stuff. It made the story so much more realistic. So thank you Schoon, for I got to read something different for a change! After the way it started, I don't mind at all if the love part is bigger or smaller as the story continues.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes YA and/or sci-fi books, and to everyone who find it to be even the littlest bit compelling. I loved this book and am eagerly looking forward to the sequel, Under Nameless Stars! Btw, the sequel's cover is ah-ma-zing!

Click here to see this review on Goodreads.

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