Title: Zenn Scarlett
Author: Christian Schoon
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
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….
Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon is a fun and quirky sci-fi story about a girl who lives on Mars and is determined to become an Exovet (alien veterinarian). The first part of the book is full of descriptions of the exotic space animals that Zenn cares for at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic. To move to the next level in her training, she has to pass three tests. A mishap during the first test leaves Zenn questioning her sanity and those around her.
I really liked the character of Zenn, she works hard and is brave. She is smart and passionate about becoming an exovet. The character of Hamish is interesting. He is pretty much a giant bug who acts as the cloisters care taker. He has difficulty thinking for himself and is constantly asking permission before doing the most menial of tasks. Zenn and Hamish have an sort-of friendship that gives Zenn Scarlett a bit of comic relief.
The middle of the book starts to pick-up as we learn more about the Martian political situation and why the neighbors of the cloisters may want it to close its doors. Zenn starts to put the pieces together and tries to find out who is behind the accidents and why. This was my favorite part of the story. I love a good mystery and Christian Schoon drops hints throughout the entire book to a much bigger, overarching story.
Zenn does have a romantic interest in Liam, who helps around the cloisters. He is the only person her own age that Zenn has ever been friends with. I found this relationship sweet and it was nice to see Zenn open-up. (Liam is also a cat lover which to this cat lover, makes a guy so much more swoon worthy.)
I ultimately enjoyed Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon. The last half of the book was much more interesting than the first half, so hang in for it. The writing was very cinematic and I could easily picture Zenn Scarlett as a TV show. Overall, I would have preferred more action and fewer animals but still found Zenn Scarlett to be a solid read. The ending has a cliffhanger and left me wanting to know where this story is going. I would definitely read the next book in this series
This book was provided for me to review by Strange Chemistry. All opinions are my own.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.