Friday, April 19, 2013

ARC Review: Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Title: Zenn Scarlett
Author: Christian Schoon
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-fi
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Goodreads rating: 3.87 out of 5.00 (pre-release)
Goodreads | The Book DepositoryAmazon

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.

Review by Nara

Thank you to Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry for sending me an advance copy of Zenn Scarlett through NetGalley. In no way did this affect my opinion of the book.

Although perhaps not one of the best books I have read this year, Zenn Scarlett was certainly one of the most interesting. From the start of the novel, you can already tell that there's going to be some amazing world building going on, with the descriptions of the alien lifeforms being quite thorough. In sci-fi (and high fantasy as well, for that matter), I just think that world building is incredibly important. We are experiencing a world that is not our own, and I feel that most people (including me) would like to know the details of that world. Schoon certainly fulfills that requirement nicely.

As expected of science fiction, it was quite scientific, for example, when describing the classification of the animals, all the medical lingo etc. It was definitely on the heavy side of sci-fi. This is no The Host or Across the Universe. I found that I had to concentrate on it rather intensely while reading. Accidentally skip a paragraph, and you're lost. The many names of the animals also confused me somewhat (probably because I wasn't concentrating. My bad.) On the other hand, I would totally get a rikkaset if I could (one of the animals in the book). They're freaking awesome: fur that blends with its surroundings, intelligent enough to communicate through sign language....I WANTS ONE!

Although the world building was indeed well done, and thorough, I found at times that Schoon perhaps spent too much time on descriptions and explanations, considerably slowing the pace of the novel down. There were times that I got a bit bored, to tell you the truth: all the science made me feel a bit like I was wading through mud. There was just enough intrigue to keep me reading, but it dragged on, so I found myself lightly skimming the novel at times (and then not knowing what the heck was going on, and having to go back to read the parts that I skipped. Bad move.)

There was very little romance throughout the novel, so if you're the type that reads predominantly for the romance (*cough Chantelle*) you'll probably find that you won't enjoy this novel that much. I suppose there was a bit of romance, but I personally didn't really see the connection between Zenn and Liam: it was a bit okay then/meh/whatever rather than me actually being interested in their relationship. I do feel that there will be more development of the relationship in sequels though.

Zenn Scarlett was interesting enough- the type of book you don't see that often in Young Adult- but on the whole, I kind of felt like nothing of note actually happened. There wasn't much action until towards the end, wasn't much mystery, wasn't much romance...despite that, I did actually enjoy the book, and would certainly recommend it to any fans of science fiction.

Recommended Science Fiction Books
1. Partials by Dan Wells
2. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
3. Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5


  1. This sounds like a lukewarm read. It could be such a great read if it produced. So frustrating. Hopefully the sequel will flesh out more.

    1. Yeah I really want Schoon to elaborate a bit more with the romance and action and all that, rather than focus so much on the world building!