The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen
Published by: HarperVoyager
Publication date: March 26th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.
With her criminal record, sixteen-year-old Char is never going to get a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect Earth’s survivors. The Arks are reserved for the real goody-goodies, like Char’s mom, dad, and brother, all of whom have long since turned their backs on her.
With Earth on the brink of destruction, Char must use all her tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they want to see her or not.
Once she arrives on the North American Ark, Char discovers that the remnants of humanity haven’t achieved the egalitarian utopia they’d planned for. For starters, the “Officers of the Peace” are anything but peaceful, especially since stealing a spot on an Ark is a crime punishable by death…
It’s the end of the world. That alone would rock the very foundations of one’s existence to the core, but not Char. Having long left behind the girl that was Charlotte, the daughter of an influential senator and a well-renowned doctor, Char finds herself finally see that her actions have caused dire consequences. Char is in juvey, a convicted common thief, and the last type of girl that would ever be saved from the world’s demise. Because of her parent’s status, they are able to secure highly coveted spots on the OPT, or outer planetary transport, that will take the passengers to The Ark. But because of her record, Char does not qualify for a spot in these vessels.
Desperate to find a way to escape what appears to be her sealed fate, Char does everything in her power to find a way onto the OTP. Her obstacles appear insurmountable, but this does not deter her determination. Her strength and resilience to survive kicks into high gear as she makes her way toward her goal, no matter the cost.
Char receives assistance from some very unlikely sources very early on. Though she feels she does not deserve it, she gratefully accepts and carries on toward the OTP, so that the brave acts of everyone that had made her journey possible would not be in vain. Her road is uncertain and her path is unconventional, but this makes the story all the more thrilling. The plot is riddled with twists and turns that you never see coming, and as a reader, it is very refreshing to find a book that is unpredictable to this high of a degree.
The writing in this book is outstanding. Laura Liddell Nolen has done an excellent job of taking a premise that has been visited with great frequency in recent years, and given it a fresh perspective. It is remarkable to find an original plot in a genre that has become somewhat generic.
Nolen has also crafted characters that are unique in their own right, yet all work together to serve the purpose of the plot in flawless harmony. Char is a strong, fearless girl that takes her fate into her own hands. While she has some insecurity and fear, she does not allow that fear to overtake her or deter her from what must be done. Even though she could easily be a character that has a hardened heart due to her criminal past, her humanity remains intact. With every occurrence, you can see her heart and the want to do right by those who cross her path, no one more so than her parents and West, her brother. Even the characters that are supporting characters are well-rounded and believable. You can tell from the very first pages that great care was not only taken to create this world, but also to bring life to its inhabitants. That effort greatly pays off and makes the book shine.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a very interesting read and I greatly enjoyed the story. I very much look forward to reading the rest of the series, and am very curious as to where the author will take this journey.
Laura grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent an excellent childhood playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. The Ark is the direct result of those stories and a lifelong devotion to space-themed television. It received a Work in Progress Grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Laura has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Texas with her family.