Title: Zenn Scarlett
Author: Christian Schoon
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication date: 2nd May 2013
Genre: YA | Science Fiction
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....
I'm not normally a big fan of sci-fi but this one caught my eye, plus I like to step out of my favourite genres every once in a while and broaden my horizons. This was a pleasant surprise though.
What I noticed straight off was that a lot of people will definitely give up on this read because of the language at the start. I felt like I was thrown into the deep end completely with the space lingo thrown into the story here and there. It got a little much sometimes for the beginning of a story so occasionally I got a little lost. I stuck with it though and eventually got the hang of what on earth everybody was talking about.
I really started to enjoy the imagination put into this book. The descriptions of the planet, different races of people and the variety of bizarre alien creatures really allowed your mind to run away with itself imagining what they would be like in real life. Eventually the read started to have a life of its own and I really enjoyed being part of that experience as a reader.
The plot was short and sweet in my opinion. It was nothing overly complicated and sometimes I could see from a mile off exactly what would happen - I didn't think it took anything away from me enjoying the read, but I would have loved a few more surprises.
I really loved Zenn. She was a perfect character for the world this book is set in. Zenn had a load of different flaws which made her relatable, she had a mysterious and compelling backstory and a lovely personality to boot - plenty of depth for any character in my opinion. I was a little disappointed that I didn't see much of the other characters - there were some great ones that I would love to see more of. Liam in particular though I expect to see him a lot more often in the sequel. I'm assuming there will be a sequel based on the ending. There better be...
Overall I do recommend this read. Especially for someone wanting to get their hands on sci-fi - I would start off with this one, if only because of the amazing world-building.
My rating: 7/10