This was another Book Club book for this month, but because of work I was unable to go. As such, there is no book club thoughts time.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Final Six by Alexandra Monir
Synopsis From The Book
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.
Science Fiction | YA – PW |Graphic Memories, Death| Love, Acceptance, Change, Following what you believe in
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Before:Every day this month has been filled with dread to read. I’ve wanted to read this so bad and as I sit with it in my hands to be able to read it, I want nothing more than to do something else. Unfair, is one word for it. I need to take a break is another word for it. I’ve already crafted my reading list for tomorrow and that list has many beautiful titles. Most of them short. This is perhaps the last book I will read for January, and so I say, to a book I wanted to read than one I had on my list.
I’m going to try at least.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Ah. Yes. This book. I did get through it quickly, but for villains wise it was pretty predictable. I had a few issues with the timeline but otherwise I did enjoy it. The broken earth that this book describes and the morality of what the Final Six have to do, I know will come up in future books. I’m predicting that book 2 will be on the space travel and book 3 will be Europa. I think that once we are in space this series is going to pick up a lot. Anything could happen out there.
The novel begins with Leo. Leo is depressed, after having to live on his own for months. Massive tidal waves took out much of the sea boards across the world, and Leo is alone. He has free dived in order to survive but upon the start of the novel he can not any longer. In the midst of trying to kill himself, a boat passes and he doesn’t want to inconvenience anyone so he surfaces. He finds out that the boat is for the ESA (european space agency) and follows after it. The Twenty-four finalists to compete for a spot to go to Europa are chosen, and he is one of them.
The twenty-four are to be chosen to go to Europa to make a new human settlement. Naomi wants nothing to do with it but she has been chosen for her genius. However she does not have a choice. She realizes that she may be the only one who does not see the opportunity to go to space as a blessing. She believes there to be life on Europa, and that the mission is a disaster from the start.
The two are taken to Huston to train, where they find out their initial four month timeline has been cut to one. They begin intense training. Learning to dive, to work in space, to adapt, and each other. When Naomi’s roommate gets ill from the radioactive resistant bacteria, that they are required to inject within their bodies, Naomi grows fearful. The next day Suki is kicked off the twenty-four and Leo swims miraculously while additionally being able to hold his breath for fifteen minutes. It is later that day that another one of the candidates is killed in the underwater exercise after “going mad.” Naomi believes that it has to be the RRB that is causing it, and she examines the bacteria they are injecting into themselves with Loe’s assistance. She discovers that the bacteria has three nuclei and must be alien. She knows she has to investigate further. Leo remembers back to what one of his friends said before he left, that they were being made into weapons.
When an earthquake strikes and the facility evacuates for a tsunami, Naomi hacks into the station with Leo’s help. They are found and assumed to be having relations (they aren’t yet). Twenty-four drops to twelve and they say goodbye to some of their friends. Leo tells Naomi about how Beckett almost killed him and how he didn’t tell anyone. Naomi tells him he should have. The two pair up for an exercise and after the stress of it find themselves kissing, realizing they’ve always had the hots for each other since the beginning.
Leo starts to realize what kind of weapons they are being made into. Naomi and Leo begin to have an affair of sneaking kisses and holding hands. All the while Naomi hatches a plan to get all the data she needs. She fakes orders, and with Leo’s help (again), she gets the data. Leo gets a red flag by his name for asking the wrong questions. Naomi deciphers everything and learns there is in fact life on Europa and that the twelve are being turned into them (or to have traits like them). The security breach is found and the news comes that in twenty-four hours the final six will be chosen.
Naomi realizes the moved time line is her fault and the Final Six’s lives depend on her. She knows she has to go up. And when the final six are chosen, she is but Leo is not. Beckett, the one who tried to kill Leo and screamed nepotism the whole time, was chosen instead. Naomi discovers that she’s been had the entire time and the lead scientist picked her because he knew everything she did. He didn’t pick Leo because of the romance aspect. The last night they sleep with each other, Naomi swearing she’ll never pick any one of the other candidates. The next day it is announced and Naomi leaves Leo behind. Naomi confronts Beckett as the spy he is and he reveals that he’s been put in charge of the mission. She says goodbye to her family, asking them to protect Naomi and she is launched into space. On Leo’s return flight he speaks to Dr. Wagner, Naomi’s hero, and she brings him to Australia. She shows him the single passenger ship she made and asks him to go to space for her. He is to dock with the Final Six at Mars, and hitch a ride with them to Europa. Their knowledge and skill set might still save the Final six. If he fails, he dies. If they succeed then she is on the run for the rest of her life. Leo agrees.
What I Liked:
Leo; I did like him. Actually a lot about him was so grounded and real. His introduction was powerful and not one I would have expected. I knew he wasn’t going to make it, but I also know he’s going to help save the world.
Naomi; She was apprehensive the whole time, and did so many things that I wish I could do. Her spine is made of steel I swear. She is going to be the reason they all survive, in the end. I love her.
Naomi x Leo; While the relationship did move fast, they had an instant chemistry that was then aided by communication and I appreciated that.
Shadiness of the operation; I always love myself some shady operations that this one was great. I trust no one in charge, just like Naomi. Seems like real government proceedings.
The science and stuff; While I didn’t understand all of it. It was cool and the training exercises were amazing.
The world; As the shining light of this book, it is rather black. The world was so beautifully destroyed that I felt horrible. The way the destruction was crafted, and what the destruction had done to people’s lives, were all too real. This world is full, tangible, and horrible. And in that, I think this book shines because it shows the real horror and real feelings in its setting while still being rather positive in much of its tone otherwise. It’s a good balance of horror and hope, that I hope to see continue.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Beckett; I knew he was villainous from the beginning. IDK, I feel like I would have kinda liked having a competition between Leo and the other that was brotherly only to have the stab in the back. Him being bad was just too obvious to me from the beginning. I knew he was going to make it to the flight without any other care. If he at least acted kind and the likes but then proved to be darker, I would have liked that.
Timeline; I think what really gets me about this, that while an expedited story makes sense. Who thought it was a smart decision to send teenagers to space with less than one month of training. Astronauts train for years, last I checked. This just really threw me off.
“No problem has ever been solved by panicking.” – pg 38
“I think it’s been happening since the day we met.” – pg 270