Saturday, January 29, 2022

Book Review: The Final Six, by Alexandra Monir

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

I wake to the sound of a sickening crack – the sound a tree might make if it snapped its neck. I struggle to sit up, but my bed is shaking, the ground rumbling and sliding beneath it.

“Earthquake!” Asher shouts. “Cover your head!”

I duck under the sheets, shoving my pillow over my head as the walls convulse around us. I brace myself for the shards of shattered glass to come flying, for the furniture to smash to the ground, just like the day the waves crashed through the windows of Rome. But then I remember – there are no windows in this room. Our furniture is bolted to the floor. NASA prepared for everything.

Just as I’m convincing myself that it’s merely an earthquake, that it won’t be like Rome all over again, a clap of thunder breaks through the noise – followed by a growing roar. It sounds like a freight train is speeding straight toward us. That can only mean one thing.

“Tsunami,” I try to yell, but my voice is garbled and barely makes a sound. “Tsunami!”

The water lashes at the walls, the floor rocking from the earthquake’s aftershocks. I hear Asher begin to pray in Hebrew, his voice rising in panic, and I squeeze my eyes shut, seeing my mother’s face. Her skin was blue when I finally found her in the water, a sight that caused me to throw up for days. But now I am joining her. I thought I had more time left – time to tell Naomi how I feel, to be one of the first humans to set foot on Europa – but I can feel the hand of Earth, reaching down to take me.

It’s space travel, but only teenaged bodies will be up to the challenge. Seems like a huge commitment at a young age, but they need to have enough years left to complete the mission.

Official synopsis:
Book Review: The Final Six, by Alexandra Monir
When Leo and Naomi are drafted, along with twenty-two of the world’s brightest teenagers, into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever changed. Overnight, they become global celebrities in contention for one of the six slots to travel to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—and establish a new colony, leaving their planet forever. With Earth irreparably damaged, the future of the human race rests on their shoulders.

For Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, this kind of purpose is a reason to go on after losing his family. But Naomi, an Iranian-American science genius, is suspicious of the ISTC and the fact that a similar mission failed under mysterious circumstances, killing the astronauts onboard. She fears something equally sinister awaiting the Final Six beneath Europa’s surface.

In this cutthroat atmosphere, surrounded by strangers from around the world, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo. As the training tests their limits, Naomi and Leo’s relationship deepens with each life-altering experience they encounter.

But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

The story is told primarily from the viewpoints of Leoan Italian who is now an orphan after his family was killed by a tsunami, and Naomian American who feels the relocation her family has had to live through repeatedly is devastating, until she meets more than a dozen teens from around the world suffering even more. Leo and Naomi have been selected to compete in the final 24. Just six teenagers will be chosen to colonize one of Jupiter’s moons as a safer alternative to life on Earth. 

What an opportunity! Or a curse, since they’re all drafted by their country’s respective military and can’t say no. While some of the teenagers feel they have nothing left to lose, they’re all intelligent enough to realize there are risksboth those they can discern, and those that may be hidden from them. 

The story was definitely compelling and realistic. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars. It ended with a major cliffhanger, so I do want to read the next book in the series and see how it all plays out. This was a good book for those interested in contemporary, speculative fiction, and sci-fi stories involving teenagers. 

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley enjoys snarky humor, bourbon, and avoiding the after-school pick-up line. See what she’s doing in almost real-time on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.


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