Zenn Scarlett lives in a cloister on Mars and she’s training to be an exovet. That’s a vet who treats alien creatures. She has three practical exams approaching when weird things start happening. She starts to feel what the creatures are feeling but it’s not helping her concentration. In fact, she seems to be making more mistakes than ever and the timing couldn’t be worse. It’s not just her education on the line, but the future of the cloister. Unrest is brewing in the local town and the aliens aren’t wanted any more.

But believing that a human could telepathically exchange thoughts with another being, on the other hand, was akin to believing in demons and unicorns.

I loved some of the concepts of how to treat alien creatures; especially when they are the size of spaceships! The in-soma pods made me think of Inner Space, even if they did only go down the digestive tract… I am a little sad that we didn’t get a fully described treatment but maybe I’m a little weird in that respect. The tensest part of the book was a 36 hour operation on a cat, and I mean that in a good way. It’s perfect for kids who might be starting to grow out of those animal rescue style books but still secretly love reading about animals and looking out for them.

For me, it was a little bit young for my tastes, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to kids. The Martian politics were a little too obvious but a good introduction to the pointlessness of racism and how segregation starts. It’s easier to deal with these issues for a young audience using aliens as the outcasts; historically blamed for disease and destruction on earth and therefore they become the perfect scape goat for human problems. From Zenn’s point of view, we see how silly the people of Mars are being. In fact, they are the aliens. They have no more place on Mars than the creatures they treat.

It was refreshing to see a young adult character working towards an actual profession, instead of saving the world or mindlessly going to school. If you know of anyone with ambitions to be a vet, or even already in training, I think this would be a great gift.

Zenn Scarlett is published by Strange Chemistry and is released today in the UK in paperback and ebook formats, followed by the US release on the 7th May. You can also read about Christian Schoon’s inspiration behind the exovets in his guest post. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Also reviewed @ For Winter Nights

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.