Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen

The Ark Trilogy, Book 1
by Laura Liddell Nolen
Harper Voyager
YA Science Fiction
239 pages

There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

With her criminal record, sixteen-year-old Char is never going to get a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect Earth’s survivors. The Arks are reserved for the real goody-goodies, like Char’s mom, dad, and brother, all of whom have long since turned their backs on her.

With Earth on the brink of destruction, Char must use all her tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they want to see her or not.

Once she arrives on the North American Ark, Char discovers that the remnants of humanity haven’t achieved the egalitarian utopia they’d planned for. For starters, the “Officers of the Peace” are anything but peaceful, especially since stealing a spot on an Ark is a crime punishable by death…


This book starts out with the teenage Charlotte (Char) in a prison where most of the guards have already left because the world is simply counting off the last hours before unavoidable doom. Char hits the first pages as a very sympathetic girl, one who has and is suffering. Although we discover later that there is a good reason she's there, Char's immediate situation and her reactions make it clear that she's not a bad person but rather someone to sympathize with. She's someone you want on your side; someone you know will do the right thing. The Char we get to know makes it hard to believe she ever had a bad past.

There's danger and tension from the first page on, always clear exactly what Char's up against and where she's headed. Although there were a couple holes in the first chapters and a few scenes seemed to stray away from the line where I thought the story was headed, most of it reeled back in and fit into the puzzle later on. By the 2nd half of the book, I was sold and didn't want to put it down. Not even for a second.

This is an easy and enjoyable read, the writing very fitting to the story and the dialogue very believable and engaging. The world is well fleshed out and is easy to dive into. I fevered with Char and felt I was right along beside her even when she wasn't sure what she should do. And it was this uncertainty that really brings the story to life. Char's intentions are always clear, but the bad guys are complex and so layered that it's hard to figure out even if they're really evil or what their true intentions are. I think these multifaceted antagonists are what pulled me into the story the most, and I'm hoping we get to dig deeper into them in the next book.

There is a type of romance, but even that is complex and kept at arm lengths to make it even more intriguing. Deception, hidden agendas, high stakes and a heroine with all the rough edges to make her fantastic--this story is packed with all the things to draw a reader in and not let go. It took a few chapters to get me hooked, but when it did, I was totally pulled into Char's adventure. I will definitely be grabbing book 2 because book 1 leaves so many possibilities and questions open, that I can't wait to see what the true agenda is behind all the opposing forces and what Char's fate will be in the end.

I recommend this to all YA Science Fiction and Dystopian fans who love a strong heroine and a plot which twists and turns until all clear lines seem gray.

And here she is. . .

Laura grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent an excellent childhood playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. The Ark is the direct result of those stories and a lifelong devotion to space-themed television. It received a Work in Progress Grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Laura has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Texas with her family.

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1 comment:

Giselle said...

Thanks for hosting today! This sounds like a fun read and very well developed, too! Glad you liked it! :)