Wednesday, August 8, 2012

review: mothership

Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
(copy sent for review by publisher)
I've read quite a few YA novels that feature the pregnant teen issue, but they've all been contemporary/realistic. Until now. Mothership is a sci-fi novel set in the year 2074, about a girl (Elvie) on board an orbiting school for pregnant teen girls. Her school is attacked by invaders, one of whom is her MIA baby daddy, at about the same time it's revealed that the faculty of Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers are evil aliens.

Haha -- wait, what?

Yeah, that was my reaction to the summery of this story also. But, surprise! It's good. It's, like, really good. Okay, the story's a bit hokey. Okay, a lot hokey. It's outrageous, really. But the comedy is sharp, the pop-culture references are more than solid (even if I was confused as to why there's so many 20th century film references in a book that takes place in 2074), and the characters are awesome. Elvie's a smart and witty protagonist who has plenty of humor about herself and her crazy alien-fighting situation. Her prepared-for-anything dad and supernerd best friend are one of the most solid and loving supporting casts I've seen lately. And Cole, the not-quite-ex-boyfriend-turned-alien-fighter manages to be sweet, stupid, and cheerworthy all at the same time.

It's so rare, in my experience, to find science fiction or comedy novels with incredible characters, but Mothership manages to be darkly funny, a solid sci-fi, and stacked with an amazing cast of characters. The actual plot involves incredibly good-looking aliens, pregnant teenagers, fighting in space, and then even more aliens. Honestly it's almost too crazy to talk about. There are quite a few twists, though most of them can be easily predicted in advance -- not that it takes anything away from this book, which is much more a comedy than a mystery or suspense novel. While I'm sure those with a bit more sci-fi and world-building knowledge than I have might be able to poke a few holes in this plot, I was just happy to be along for the ride. Elvie's definitely one of the best protagonists I've read this year and I'll admit that I really fell for the romantic aspect of this story.

And while I was dreading the cliffhanger ending I'm happy to report that while this book (which, yes, is the first in a planned trilogy -- fingers crossed it doesn't get cancelled!) doesn't tie up all the loose ends, it also doesn't end on an infuriating cliffhanger, but instead had a little question mark of an ending. I I have any complaints with this book it's that some of the more violent parts were difficult for me to get through. It's all what I think of as comic-book violence (like the POW, KAPOW! of the old animated Batman show), but still there was just a little much of it for me. That said, this is definitely a winner. It's a sci-fi comedy full of heart. A crazy combination that totally, totally works.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear this cliffhanger won't kill. It is weird that they used 20th Century instead of 21st... I guess I'll have to check this out. You've made it seem just zany enough to work.