Sorry for all the reviews lately, but I like to share :) Here's another book I would recommend!
Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
***There are spoilers in this post***
Noah Zarc is a 12-year-old time-traveling pilot who helps collect two of each species of animal for the future earth, along with his family. The title and character name are not in the least a subtle tribute to the Noah's Ark story, which is essentially what this story is loosely founded on. While I appreciate the pun, I do wish it had been more subtle only because the book was rife with other references to the Biblical story.
Considering I'm a woman in my late 20's, I really enjoyed this book, which was obviously aimed at younger boys around Noah's age. And that's fine - because even if it is a YA SF written for teen boys, I still got a kick out of reading it. There is a lot in here for the "adult" reader, such as the complex ideas of time travel that are explained at the end, and the different worlds that are built up around the characters. What I especially liked was Adina, the cave girl who ends up on Noah's ship and helps rescue his mother from Haon, the antagonist of the story. Adina's smarts are pretty impressive, considering modern humans tend to think that cave people were barely functional.
We also get to grapple with the mind-bending question: Is Haon truly evil? Or is he simply doing what he thinks is best for the human population (read: Venus's citizens)? I do think that a lot of his actions were dictated by desperation - the loss of his wife, giving up his son, his mother's death in a war on Venus, and finally the rejection of every legal thing he tried to get Earth repopulated for those who were barely surviving on Venus. But, like with most tragic characters, he ends up doing the worst possible thing and is then (presumably) punished for it.
The resolution at the end of the book came too quickly. It had a happy ending, which was awesome considering the reader is led to believe that Haon does release the nanobots and Obadiah is dead. But I felt that it was all too easy, and too easily explained. It was also strange to me that a character, Draben, was introduced and dismissed in a few pages, never to be mentioned again, when it seemed that he would play a much larger role. Perhaps his story will come in the second book, due out next year. The assassin bots also played a minimal role in the book, and aren't really explained except to say that Haon left them on Earth when he ran off with Noah's mother. I wish that story line had been fleshed out a little bit, but overall it was not important to the plot. My last gripe is actually with the cover - the boy's half-face is a bit unsettling to me, and would not lead me to pick up the book in the store. However, I was taught a valuable lesson: even while judging the cover, give the book a shot.
4 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed the read even though it was probably a bit "young" for me. Great writing, fast pacing, characters who are mostly developed (Sam and Hamilton kind of get left out of a lot of the story), and an intense climax are all positives for this book. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is struggling to get their kids to read, because it was very easy to get into and kept me hanging on.
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