Title: The Life Below
Author: Alexandra Monir
Publication date: February 18, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
From the publisher—
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.
After our mindbending landing on the moon back in 1969, we’ve faltered in our quest to explore space. Mars seems like a barely attainable dream and no one apparently wants to go back to the moon. Imagine, then, the massive effort to go to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, to build a new home for humanity after we failed miserably on Earth to address climate change.
A tiny crew of six highly trained teens, accompanied by two AI’s, has a monumental task ahead of them when they lift off but it’s most alarming that they don’t really know what they’ll find on icy Europa. Why did the earlier mission fail and what is the International Space Training Camp hiding? There are so many things that can go wrong, not least of which is the possibility of finding alien life on Europa. Leo has learned something that could truly jeopardize the success of the mission and the safety of the crew but now he has to try to reach them before they get to Europa, before he loses Naomi forever.
Much of the action—and it’s pretty breakneck—focuses on the journey itself, as it should considering all the inherent dangers. I appreciated that because so many space exploration stories slide past the trials and tribulations of getting to the ultimate destination. The very real possibilities of space exploration are endlessly fascinating and Ms. Monir has crafted a story that’s worthy of those possibilities.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2020.
Read an excerpt from The Life Below here.
About the Author
Alexandra Monir, Iranian-American author and recording artist, has published five novels for young adults, including her popular debut, Timeless. A Barnes & Noble best-seller and one of Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month,” Timeless and its sequel, Timekeeper, have been featured in numerous media outlets and been published in different countries around the world. She followed the duology with Suspicion and The Girl in the Picture, both standalone YA thrillers. Her science fiction novel, The Final Six (March 6, 2018) was acquired by HarperCollins and Sony Pictures during the same week, in two major pre-emptive deals.
Alexandra is also a singer/songwriter who often integrates music into her books’ pages. She wrote and recorded three original songs to accompany Timeless and Timekeeper, which were released as the album “The Timeless EP” and distributed by Jimmy Buffett’s record label, Mailboat Records. She also recorded a song that was released with the publication of Suspicion, and is composing a stage musical geared toward Broadway. Her musical roots are deep, as she is the granddaughter of the late Monir Vakili, the foremost Iranian opera singer.
Alexandra Monir is a frequent speaker at middle schools and high schools across the country, and at major events including fan conventions, women’s leadership conferences, and book festivals. She is a member of the Iranian American Women Foundation, an organization near to her heart. Alexandra currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and newborn son. To learn more about Alexandra, visit her online at www.alexandramonir.com.
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Win a copy of THE LIFE BELOW
by Alexandra Monir (US Only)
Starts: 18th February 2020
Ends: 3rd March 2020