'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Thursday, 4 April 2013

REVIEW: Zenn Scarlett - Christian Schoon

Zenn Scarlett - Christian Schoon 
Zenn Scarlett

When you're studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school... is a different kind of animal. 

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....

*A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review*
*A big thanks to Strange Chemistry for providing me with this book*

This was definitely a case of 'it's not you, it's me' with this book. The writing was flawless, the world building was excellent, the characters were easy to sympathise with, but my main issue was the realisation that I really don't like alien based fiction. At all. I hadn't read anything which featured 'proper' aliens before i.e not robots or different people, but bugs and the sorts. Although Hammish made me chuckle on many occasions, I really don't think this section of science-fiction is for me. And I am really, really sad that I couldn't enjoy this more.

DESPITE THIS, it was still a really good read. The actual rating is 3.5/5* and I still recommend this book to lovers of fiction which predominantly focuses on an alien population. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was an author's debut! It is really well written, eloquent, the world building is phenomenal. The characters are realistic and the events which unfold within the book really get your heart going. Mr Schoon certainly knows his stuff. I think a part of where I had issues is that I have never had a strong science head, it's always been for the arts so I occasionally felt a little lost. I couldn't tell you whether some of the scientific references were fiction or fact. Again, this is all against me and not the book.

I really enjoyed reading about Zenn Scarlett, our protagonist. She is a determined, seventeen year old girl who is fully focused on continuing down the same career path as her deceased mother. We meet her as she is in training in order to pass up to the next level, from novice, and to become one step closer to her career as an exoveterinarian. Things don't run smoothly as many mishaps occur throughout her testing, costing her vital points. Alongside this, she is also coming to grips with this new sensation that rushes through her when various animals are going through certain sensations. This entire situation is made all the more complicated as the Cloister is under threat from the local council. The aliens aboard do not sit comfortably with the humans and some are determined to rid the landscape of them - no matter what the cost.

This book has a small love interest developing through the character of Liam. Things most certainly aren't simple here either. The book has plenty of villains characters that I can guarantee you will love to hate. There are plenty of twists and turns and is overall a fascinating read. I wish I could have given it a higher rating, but it just isn't the right genre for me. As I said above, if you're a science-fiction/ alien lover, this book is most certainly for you. If you're fed up of the love theme dominating your books, this is also the book for you :). Interesting, original and like nothing I've read before, I am - despite the rating - looking forward to reading the next book in the series. 

1 comment:

  1. Just had to stop by and say thanks for this review; even tho this species of SF wasn't what you gravitate toward, you clearly gave the book a serious read and did some equally serious pondering on it. Not a lot of reviewers in your shoes would've taken the time to a) point out the reason the book just wasn't their cuppa without turning the review into a snark-fest and b) go on to recommend the book to others for whom it might be just the thing. Seriously, excellent piece of blogging and a shining example of how this sort of post can be done with class and taste. My compliments and, again, thanks. Well done.


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