Book Review: The Life Below by Alexandra Monir
As Naomi lifts off into space and away from a rapidly deteriorating Earth, she watches the world fade away, and along with it Leo, a Final Six contestant she grew close to during training. Leaving Earth behind is hard, but what’s ahead, on Europa, could be worse. The International Space Training Camp continues to hide the truth about what happened to the last group of astronauts who attempted a similar colonization but failed mysteriously. With one shot—at this mission and to Europa—Naomi is determined to find out if there is alien life on Europa before she and her crew get there.
Leo, back on Earth, has been working with renegade scientist Dr. Greta Wagner, who promises to fly him to space where he can essentially latch on to Naomi’s ship. And if Wagner’s hypothesis is right, it isn’t a possibility of coming in contact with extraterrestrial life on Europa—it’s a definite. With Naomi unaware of what awaits, it’s up to Leo to find and warn her and the others.
With all the pieces of their journey finally clicking into place, everything else starts to fall apart. A storm threatens to interfere with Leo’s takeoff, a deadly entity makes itself known to the Final Six, and the questions the ISTC has been avoiding about the previous failed mission get answered in the worst way possible. If the dream was to establish a habitable domain on Europa… the Final Six are about to enter a nightmare.
When we left our crew at the end of The Final Six, the teens had gone through an intense selection process and some teens were chosen to go to space to save the human race. We pick up at lift off and the action does not disappoint. There is sabotage, political intrigue, lies, and a group of desperate teens trying to survive in a situation that they are in no way truly equipped to survive. It’s edge of your seat on every page.
These teens are on a mission to save the entire human race, but what happens if the information they have is a lie? And how do they know who to trust? It’s an important question as the teens – and the reader – are racing to discover what their truth is and it’s one of the primary driving forces of this novel. This group of teens are hurtling through space and the only information they have are the voices of a select few adults in their comms and two A.I. They don’t even know if they can trust each other.
Down below, Leo is enlisted by a rogue scientist who claims that the information the teens in space possess is faulty and that their lives and the fate of the entire mission is at risk. He is quickly trained and launched into space – alone I might add – in a desperate mission to correct the faulty data and save the girl he loves, Naomi. That’s right, there’s a rewarding and moving love story the compels a lot of the action.
The adults in this series are truly the worst, but the action is non stop and it’s a fun read with environmental themes that are relevant to our times. Fans of Doctor Who, science fiction, and all things space will enjoy this duology.
Recommended. This book publishes on February 18, 2020 from HarperTeen. I read an digital advanced reader on Edelweiss.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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