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The Final Six    by Alexandra Monir order for
Final Six
by Alexandra Monir
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a YA dystopian that begins on Earth, but is planning to head off-planet to colonize Jupiter's moon, Europa. In Alexandra Monir's The Final Six, Earth is on its last legs from global warming, and twenty-two of the planet's smartest teenagers are drafted into the International Space Training Camp. Not all of them are willing to be picked for this endeavor.

Leo is an Italian championship swimmer who lost his entire family when powerful storm swells drowned much of Rome. Iranian-American science genius Naomi is very close to her family and desperate to stay with them, especially with her sickly younger brother Sam, whom she adores. She is also suspicious of the ISTC project, understanding its risks all too well. The story alternates between their viewpoints as they get to know - and care for - each other.

Twenty-four teens are selected first and that number whittled down through competition to a final six at the ISTC, NASA's Hogwarts. Another champion swimmer, Beckett Wolfe (the US president's nephew), is determined to do whatever it takes to beat Leo - but why is it so important to ISTC to have a candidate who can hold their breath underwater for long periods of time?

Why are all candidates given vaccine treatments, supposedly of radiation-resistant bacteria? And, though the ISTC denies it, is it true that there is intelligent life on Europa? This episode ends with the selection of the program's final six, and it's not what readers will expect. They will want to read more though, as I do. Note that this engrossing story has already been optioned by Sony Pictures.

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