Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. However, the twelve-year-old time traveler soon learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is abducted and taken to thirty-first century Mars; his dad becomes stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying a newly habitable, post-apocalyptic Earth. Traveling through time in the family’s immense spaceship, Noah, a paraplegic from birth, must somehow care for the thousands of animals on board, while finding a way to rescue his parents. Along the way, he discovers his mother and father aren’t who he thought they were, and there is strength inside him he didn’t know he had. (from Goodreads)
Ok, I might as well admit it right up front – I am not a sci-fi kind of gal – especially books. So, how did I come by this novel? Well, I became acquainted with the author through Goodreads, in a Group Discussion. Bob Pease spoke about his new novel “Noah Zarc”, and as someone who loves lighthearted plays on words, and is familiar with bible stories, “Noah Zarc” went on my radar. I also enjoy occasionally reading a book aimed at younger readers. In short, I agreed to read and review “Noah Zarc”, which Bob Pease kindly gifted to me in eBook format. Challenging, because as of yet this writer does not own an eReader!! But, an on-line eReader program helped! I advised Bob Pease I would do my best reading and then writing honestly about his book.
“Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble” captured my attention slowly – not that the book was slow – I was slow. My lack of sci-fi lingo and imagination started to cause me trouble. So, I read about three chapters, was caught by the storyline, and read those chapters again – and I was hooked! Now I get it! And I freed my imagination for time travel and for fantasy.
The novel is told from the perspective of Noah, at 12 he is the youngest of three children in the Zarc family. Noah was born paraplegic, so spends his time in a wheelchair – unless he is out chasing bad guys, and wearing his EV (Extra Vehicle) suit, which allows him to run. Oops! Now you know there are bad guys in this novel! Actually bad guy singular – but a powerful and threatening character. Noah’s wheelchair is actually called a magchair, whose movement is controlled by Noah speaking or thinking thoughts, which are transferred to his chair, via a neuro-implant at the base of Noah’s skull.
Alright, let’s get a few facts out of the way. The story is set in 3100AD after the cataclysm on Earth – which left Earth devoid of human and animal life, uninhabitable. Human life exists on Mars and Venus. The Zarc family lives on the ARC, Animal Rescue Cruiser, which is the size of a large city! Most of the ARC is set up as rainforest, desert, water, or grassland, whatever is necessary to accommodate a large animal population. The job of the Zarc family is to travel back in time to earth 2100AD, which is prior to Earth’s cataclysm. The Zarcs collect and bring back to the ARC two of every kind of animal, one male and one female, keeping them housed on the ARC.
Of course life does not go smoothly and the Zarc family find themselves on different space ships, jumping and travelling through time, meeting new friends from 8500BC, and fighting the evil forces of Haon who does not want the animal rescue to succeed. Noah finds himself in the most difficult situations – often by choice – struggling to bring his family safely back together.
This book is fun! It is fun for many reasons, one of which is Noah’s age – twelve. In 2012 we marvel at the knowledge and computer skills of 12 year old young people. Well, it looks like by 3100AD those same twelve year olds will be commanding spaceships and time travel. Isn’t it amazing to think about those possibilities? Individuals requiring wheelchairs are regarded as no different than individuals who walk under their own power. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? And don’t we all want to live like The Jetsons? One of my favourite cartoons from the past! Being transported long distances within our own ARCS, via “the series of tubes that crisscrossed the decks allow[ing] the spheres (think chairs) to travel at extremely high speeds while keeping their passengers safe in gel-padded seats” (page 16).
For Noah, he feels the best when he is out of his magchair, and into the pilot seat of a space ship. I think we can all find a comparable instance in our own lives, and identify with how Noah is feeling.
One of the traits of this novel that I especially appreciated was the kindness and concern expressed by the characters to each other and everyone they meet. Also, the concern for safety popped up quite often in the book. We find out that no one has a perfect life, (sound familiar?), or has been born into perfect circumstances; but “what makes each of us special is how we deal with our circumstances” (page 41).
The rulers and law-enforcers in “Noah Zarc”, comprise the Poligarchy. Noah’s older brother, Hamilton, supports the Poligarchy’s mantra: “We must atone for our past sins. We must keep earth from being destroyed again” (page 120). Follow the laws. Be good people. Environmentally conscious. Does this sound familiar?
A storyline within the story is undeniably biblically based. D. Robert Pease does this skillfully and gently, not forcing any doctrine on the reader. However, as a person whose belief system is biblically based, this theme was very enjoyable and contained a good amount of humour! Even to the scouting robot belonging to Noah’s parents, Hannah and Noah Sr., whose acronym is M.O.S.E.S. (Mobile Oriented Spacetime Energy Signal).
One of the great things about this book is the enjoyment it gave me, and the enjoyment the characters had in their lives. The author’s ability to spin the tale and include the reader stands out throughout the book.
Even someone – me – devoid of any experience with sci-fi, is sure to find pleasure in the Zarc family adventures. The reader does not need to understand outer space and time travel lingo to go with the flow of Noah’s adventures. Noah doesn’t understand, so I was in good company!
I found some of the actions detailed by the author did get a little out of sync in a couple of places, and I would have enjoyed reading the ending of some of the secondary story lines, especially those related to Noah’s older sister Sam.
The author touches on some social awareness issues, including child labour laws – or the lack of them. But it is done in such an easy way; it would not become a burden to the young reader.
One of my favourite scenes involves something we all battle today – automated phone systems. If you have ever tried to reach an individual within an organization, you will laugh out loud at Noah’s brief predicament!
I highly recommend this novel, and trust it will be enjoyed by eager young minds.
I was also thinking: the good guy’s name is Noah, and the bad guy’s name is Haon. Does that strike anyone else as funny…..?
So, where is the Joy in today’s book? Well, that’s an easy one. Joy is written throughout this novel, in the person of Noah Zarc Jr. I want to capture some of his enthusiasm for life!!
Why not grab some of his Joy!!