THE FINAL SIX, by Alexandra Monir, HarperTeen, March 6, 2018, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
In 2015, I read Alexandra Monir’s Suspicion and was pleasantly surprised. The book had a Rebecca-esque gothic feel that immediately transported me. Alexandra’s latest book, The Final Six, again transports readers, but to a completely different place.
When Leo and Naomi are drafted, along with twenty-two of the world’s brightest teenagers, into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever changed. Overnight, they become global celebrities in contention for one of the six slots to travel to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—and establish a new colony, leaving their planet forever. With Earth irreparably damaged, the future of the human race rests on their shoulders.
For Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, this kind of purpose is a reason to go on after losing his family. But Naomi, an Iranian-American science genius, is suspicious of the ISTC and the fact that a similar mission failed under mysterious circumstances, killing the astronauts onboard. She fears something equally sinister awaiting the Final Six beneath Europa’s surface.
In this cutthroat atmosphere, surrounded by strangers from around the world, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo. As the training tests their limits, Naomi and Leo’s relationship deepens with each life-altering experience they encounter.
But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives. —Synopsis provided by HarperTeen
The Final Six isn’t a gothic novel, but Alexandra’s writing definitely evokes a mood and sense of place. Her opening chapter with Leo swimming around what is left of Rome has such a sense of longing an isolation that you can almost hear the water lapping against the ruins. When you meet Naomi, there’s more of a sense of normalcy. When the 24 teenagers come together, those dichotomies crash, creating a built-in dynamic that works well with the overall plot.
The Final Six is an engrossing read. Alexandra’s pacing is strong and her ability to leave space for reading between the lines is commendable. It’s a book I didn’t want to stop reading and one I didn’t want to end.
The book isn’t perfect. The ending leaves a lot of unanswered questions — probably because more books are coming. There are a few convenient twists, but nothing that really distracts from the overall book. Sony Pictures has already optioned The Final Six, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a dystopian adventure that seems plausible.
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