Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

16071885Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon
 Strange Chemistry
304 pages
 Science Fiction
Space, Animals, Mystery, Romance
How I obtained the book
Netgalley egalley


When you’re studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school… is a different kind of animal.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…

In early 2011, I read a book called THE GALACTIC GOURMET. THE GALACTIC GOURMET was about a renowned alien chef named Gurronsevas who was tasked with feeding other aliens.

What made this book special was White’s imagination when it came to the aliens. Every alien was unique. Most didn’t even have vaguely “Earther” (to steal a word from ZENN) characteristics.

ZENN SCARLETT was severely lacking in exciting and unique aliens. Every alien could both breathe air and drink water. They were all mammals and each one was compared to some Earther life form such as an insect-like or a fox-like alien.

The aliens of ZENN SCARLETT were boring. The Indra – asteroid dwelling “whales” – were as interesting as they got. ZENN SCARLETT could’ve used some serious imagination when it came to aliens.

While I didn’t expect White-level aliens, I did expect something more than a series of mammalian, air breathing horses.

One of the lowest points to the book was the feeling that you are constantly being preached at. I know other reviewers have covered this but I feel it needs to be gone over again – just for empahasis.

Schoon, I agree with you. Science is good and narrow-mindedness is bad. But that does not mean you can spend the whole book drilling it into our heads like a teacher.

Just because science good does not mean anyone can go up to a religious person and pretty much tell them that for believing what they do, they’re idiots.

I’m not a religious person and, to be honest, I don’t like overly religious people at all. I can’t stand them. But I would never go up to someone and tell them “Hey, for believing in what you do, you are a complete idiot” which is what Zenn did.

Zenn wasn’t a very amazing character. She wasn’t a lifeless wall but overall, Zenn was pretty plain.

She’s supposedly a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good(according to the blurb) but I didn’t find anything that would make me think “ah, she’s too smart for her own good”.

Zenn was infuriatingly oblivious and naïve. There is a guy is flirting with her throughout the book. It’s so OBVIOUS. But our little Zenn spent the whole book wondering “Does he like me? Is he flirting – no he couldn’t be because well, I’m just Zenn”.

Guys, the naïve-little-girl trope is annoying. I cannot stand oblivious heroines. It is not that hard to see when is someone blatantly flirting with you especially if they have been flirting with you for WEEKS.

Another part that annoyed me was the angst. Girl, I get it. Your life is hard. But that does not give you the right to sit around moping about how you just want to be a real boy normal girl.

With all that said, Zenn isn’t a bad character. Sure, she gets on my nerves but at least she wasn’t a horrible person or a stick in the mud. She was brave at times and I admire her dedication to the animals.

Liam, the love interest, was bland and by bland, I mean, he was nothing. At all. He was pretty much just a name. He couldn’t be called a main character by any stretch of the imagination.

Thankfully, there were two redeeming characters. Hamish, the insect alien, and Katie, the rikkaset (a fox like alien) were absolutely adorable. Hamish was the sweetest insect ever. I just wanted to hug him! Katie was an adorable deaf rikkaset who spoke in sign language.

They have to be the cutest characters I’ve encountered in a long time.

Plot and Writing
The book, for the most part, was a monotonous series of alien rescues. The rescues were bland and tedious since they were basically the same steps repeated with different animals. Find sick animal, help sick animal, think you can’t do help it, and then actually save it…

The first two to three times were really interesting and fun but after that, I lost interest. ZENN SCARLETT became a chore to read. It wasn’t bad but I felt less enthusiastic to read it.

The actual plot was a who’s out to get us type book. It was more of a side plot really. Zenn helped numerous aliens but she made these “uncharacteristic” mistakes and OMG someone is trying sabotage her!

This who-did-it plot was extremely predictable. From the beginning, it’s very obvious who “did” it because it’s all but said outright!

The best part of the writing for ZENN SCARLETT was definitely the world. How cool is a book set on Mars? The world-building for the facility was fantastic and very immersive.

The worst part is the dialogue. To be blunt: it’s terrible. It feels like every time Zenn is talking to someone she is either being interrogated or interrogating the other person.

Through dialogue, most of the info-dumping happens. This is a common practice but it feels even worse in ZENN SCARLETT. I don’t know why or how, but it does.

Likes and Dislikes
– world building
– setting
– Katie and Hamish
– occasionally Zenn

– Zenn
– Dialogue
– Aliens

ZENN SCARLETT has a lot of problems. While my review doesn’t show it, I did actually like the book for the most part. It’s honestly not a terrible book and I would recommend it.


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