Book DescriptionRelease date: May 7, 2013 | Series: Strange Chemistry
Zenn Scarlett is a bright, determined, occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. That means she’s specializing in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars will find her working with alien patients from whalehounds the size of a hay barn to a baby Kiran Sunkiller, a colossal floating creature that will grow up to carry a whole sky-city on its back.
But after a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school and other near-disasters, the Cloister is in real danger of being shut down by a group of alien-hating officials. If that happens, Zenn knows only too well the grim fate awaiting the creatures she loves.
Now, she must unravel the baffling events plaguing her school, before someone is hurt or killed, before everything she cares about is ripped away from her and her family forever. To solve this mystery – and live to tell about it – Zenn will have to put her new exovet skills to work in ways she never imagined, and in the process learn just how powerful compassion and empathy can be.
Welcome to Mars! Somewhere in the future, we meet Zenn in the opening act where her mother disappears along with Indra (snake-like creature with immense natural powers of energy) and the world quickly builds from there. Through Zenn we are introduced to a host of strange animals that populate this world as she trains to be an exovet like her family. As she trains, strange things start to happen to her, she connects with the animals, in fact so much, she can feel their disease. Back in the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic, a sort of monastery city, she meets Liam, a new student, and she doesn’t even register that he is attracted to her. She has very little filter between her mouth and her brain and this leads to trouble at times.
Of course, there must be a bit of a mystery to keep the plot going so Zenn tries to discover why her father seems to ignore her most of the time, leaving her training to her uncle as she progress to her being fully invested as an exovet. There are increasing threats to her society as robbers ply their trade and the citizen are about to give up on their city. Since this is the initial book in the series, there is a lot of world building necessary to plot the upcoming installments and are a bit slow in places. Overall, this is a great start to a new Sci-Fi series, something I haven’t seen in a long time.
About the AuthorChristian Schoon grew up in Minnesota, and worked his way through college in a succession of rock bands before earning his degree from the U of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Journalism. Following a stint as an in-house copywriter/scriptwriter at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, he supplied freelance copy for the entertainment industry and scriptwriting for live-action and animated TV. Currently, he writes from his 150-year-old farmstead in Iowa which he shares with a fluctuating number of horses (generally less than a dozen, but not always), 30 or so cats, a dog, three ferrets and a surprisingly tolerant wife. The Zenn Scarlett books are his first novels, however he admits to being an unrepentant fan of science fiction and fantasy ever since discovering the tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the fifth grade. He can be found at his blog: christianschoon.com
Well, memory, as research has shown pretty unequivocally lately, turns out to be the very essence of an unreliable narrator; a messy little serpent’s-nest of neurons who have a way of re-routing themselves when you’re not paying attention. But, my current memory-config tells me one of the earliest books I read was Beautiful Joe by Saunders. It’s a tough read, emotionally, for a youngish kid – Joe lives a true dog’s life, especially at first. But the story is just so unforgettable and humane (as opposed to human). A real classic and a heart-breaker and a life-affirmer.
2. What are you reading right now?
I’ve just started in on my copy of Playing Tyler by fellow Strange Chemistry author T.L. Costa; it jumps off to a brilliant beginning. She has SO captured the teen-boy voice. I’m hooked. It’s gonna be quite a ride, I can already tell!
3. How does your garden grow?
Is this a tricksie question? Hmmm… my garden is the sort that receives the bare minimum of tending so it grows tangled and briary-fruitish-vegetable-y-leafy and amusingly-mutated but not so thorny-dystopic-pointy-rooted you can’t walk around barefoot.
4. What is the last thing you Googled?
The name of the author of Beautiful Joe (*looks sheepish* Yes, I’m fessing up here; I read it back in grade school, but I should still have remembered the author’s name. My apologies.)
5. What makes you cringe?
Seeing any life form – human, non-human, imaginary, alien – in pain. I seem to have a really visceral reaction to this sort of thing. Of course, after the brief cringing, I’ll try to do whatever’s in my meager capability-range and skill-set to remedy the situation.
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Great description of the garden! I can just imagine throny dystopic twisting vegetation!
Holly Bryan says
I have had my eye on this book for what may be, no lie, an entire year!! Who even dreams up something like an inter-galactic exoveterinarian, for goodness’ sake?! Someone with a very strange and brilliant mind, that’s who!! I read your review over at your regular site, Mary, and I was so excited by the last thing you said, about this being a great start to a new sci-fi series, something you hadn’t seen in years. SF has always been one of my top two favorite genres, and I’m thrilled to pieces to see so many amazing sci-fi books coming out this year in YA!! I want the younger generation to know the power of the genre to blow your mind, just like I experienced growing up. Forget about these so-called “romance” books with stalkers and insta-love and love triangles (or squares, for heaven’s sake) — THIS is what the cool, smart, hip kids read, I tell ya!!!! So glad you loved this book – I’m sure I will too, And I can’t wait to read it! Oh, and thanks for the great interview with the author – just reading how he answered the first question, I knew we were in for a treat 🙂
hmbryan (at) alumni(dot)duke(dot)edu
Holly Bryan says
Sorry, I’m a day behind 🙂 that should be 5/8, of course!
Holly Bryan says
Tweeted this today (5/9/2013): https://mobile.twitter.com/hmbryan/status/332567737798909952
Lisa Vazquezanzua says
This book sounds SO GOOD!! I’m so looking forward to reading this one!! Shared on Facebook: 5/9
Holly Bryan says
I tweeted this again today! Thanks again for the chance to win a copy…I’ve had my eye on this for a while!
Mary BookHounds Jacobs says