The Final Six – Alexandra Monir – Harper Teen – Published 6 March 2018
When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.
For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.
As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling 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.
The Final Six combines thrilling tension, intense romance, heartbreaking grief, and sci-fi speculation in a world that is facing the disastrous consequences of climate change.
Leo has nothing left to live for. His family were killed in one of the massive natural disasters to hit Rome, and with no one to care for, he has given up all hope. Until, shockingly, Leo is drafted to the new world army. He is now one of twenty-four teenagers battling it out to become one of the Final Six. The chosen six will have the chance to escape Earth and forge a new settlement deep in space. When Naomi discovers she is to be one of the chosen twenty-four, she is heartbroken. There is no way she can leave her parents or her beloved brother. With no other choice, Naomi sets in place a plan to reveal the secrets that lie beneath the surface of this space program.
There have been a number of YA books published recently that centre around the concept of teenagers being recruited for elite space training. The Final Six sits well beside titles like Katie Kennedy’s What Goes Up and Heather Kaczynski’s Dare Mighty Things. Yet, despite some similarities in concept, The Final Six brings something unique to this space-cadets plot line, with diverse characters, conspiracy theories, and a unique setting.
The Final Six is set in the undetermined future. Technology has advanced (artificial intelligence robots, for example), yet the whole world is in a state of disaster. Climate change is no longer a theory, but a devastating part of every day life. Many cities and towns have been destroyed, families torn apart, and it has been decided that the only future for humanity lies in Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
I loved that this book alternated between Naomi and Leo’s perspective. Leo is excited about the opportunities of the space program and the new hope that it gives him, while Naomi is devastated and sees only the flaws and coverups. Through these two vastly different perspectives, the reader is given a unique view of such a program. Of course, Leo and Naomi are not the only two contestants, and the remaining 24 contestant characters are detailed to varying depths.
Leo and Naomi share an instant connection of understanding despite their differing views and their friendship grows as they complete the various tasks set before them. It is towards the latter half of the book that this friendship deepens into an intense and passionate romance, but a large proportion of the book, I found, does focus on interpersonal interactions – from teamwork to competition, enmity to new-found friendship.
Alongside the social interactions, the tension is kept high throughout the book, both due to the tasks the competitors must undertake as well as from Naomi’s secret plans to uncover the truths behind the space program. The ending throws in a nice twist that will hopefully be continued in a second book.
Already optioned for film, The Final Six is an exciting new sci-fi adventure, that promises surprise plot twists, intense romance, and a constant threat of danger.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Space travel, climate change, environment issues, natural disasters, aliens, romance, friendship, competition, family, grief.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Implied sex scene, no details. Sexual references. One occasion of coarse language, sh** (1).
Published: 6 March 2018 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 352 pages.