One thousand plus years into the future of our solar system, Earth has been destroyed. People now live on Mars and Venus, fly around in the coolest space ships, and utilize amazing technology (like holopads, personal flying thermsuits, chef-bots that speak with French accents, and neuro implants). They’ve even perfected time travel. But, unfortunately, all animal life has been destroyed in the great Cataclysm.
Enter the Zarc family. Hannah and Noah Sr. are scientists in charge of a government sanctioned project to rescue extinct animal populations and resettle them on the slowly recovering Earth. They do this by traveling back in time, capturing a male and female of each species, and holding them within the Animal Rescue Cruiser (ARC) until their natural habitats can sustain them on Earth. Twelve-year-old Noah Zarc, a paraplegic and incredible space pilot, is a vital part of this family program. Not everyone, however, is excited about the repopulation efforts, and some will go to any lengths to stop it.
Futuristic sci-fi is not usually my first choice, but this spin on Noah’s ark looked so intriguing I had to download it. I’m glad I did. Not only is it one of the most original stories I’ve read recently, it’s well-written, entertaining, sometimes unpredictable, and just plain fun. It’s also squeaky clean, totally appropriate for middle-graders as young as eight, though I’d probably rate it at about a fifth grade reading level.
One thing that I really appreciated about this book was the worldview from which it was written. I expected the usual naturalistic approach. You know, one more repetition of the we-all-evolved, save-the-earth mantra of modern science. But this story was refreshingly open-minded. It did have one reference to people “evolving past” something, but it also spoke again and again of creation, and it gave cave people high intelligence. And my favorite, my absolute favorite statement it made was that the earth – this uniquely life-supporting planet – was MADE FOR PEOPLE. For you see, the Poligarchy (the solar system government), in an effort keep power, will not allow people to repopulate the earth, only animals. Not even when people are dying on Venus. This adds a unique element of sympathy for the antagonist. It also counters the real-life Green Movement that sometimes erroneously places greater importance on our planet rather than on the people for whom the earth was made.
Kudos on an excellent first novel, Mr. Pease! It would be a worthwhile purchase even if it wasn’t only 3.99 on Amazon. And in honor of a clean, kid-friendly read, I’m bestowing on Noah Zarc the first ever Bookworm Blather Squeaky Award!