“The Final Six” by Alexandra Monir

I read this book a while ago–by a while ago, I mean a month ago at least. And it’s a very topical book about the effects of climate change, so I’m finally going to post a review. Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty distressed about the overall movement or lack thereof towards preventing global warming.

I currently live in Australia, and I see the effects of industrialization firsthand. The state I live in, Victoria, has cleared a tremendous amount of land for farming to support a growing city, aka Melbourne. This means that many species of native plants and animals are either threatened with extinction or going extinct. Also, there’s a colony of thousands of bats in the park behind my place, which are extremely sensitive to a slight increase of temperature. By extremely sensitive, I mean, if it gets too hot during the summer, they die from heat distress.

Two fluffy fruit bats (grey-headed flying-foxes) from the large colony in the park by my place that are threatened by global warming.

I don’t like to talk about this much because it’s depressing. But global warming is a global issue that must be addressed. We need to come up with solutions to reducing carbon emissions and decreasing the greenhouse effect and preferably before it is too late.

Which leads me to Alexandra Monir’s book. When I used to talk to my peers way back in grade school about global warming and ruining our planet, some kid would inevitably state, “Well, we’ll just find another planet to live on.”

This point of view is incredibly dangerous, since the more you learn about the ideal conditions on Earth that led to the evolution of human beings and the ability for life to be sustained, the more you realize it’s going to be pretty hard to find another planet with similar conditions out there. Plus there’s the entire issue of space travel (it’s really risky) and whether the planet will be close enough to reach.

Basically, we should try to save the earth we’ve got now, instead of relying on a highly hypothetical “other planet” that we can hypothetically move to and pollute.

“The Final Six” takes this premise. Earth is uninhabitable due to global warming. Constant natural disasters and rising sea levels have made it extremely dangerous to continue living there. So, the world proposes a solution. A group of teenagers is recruited for a space mission to prepare one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, for colonization.

“The Final Six” follows the selection and astronaut training of the ideal group of teenagers. We follow the points of view of Naomi, a Persian American recruit, and Leo, an Italian recruit. Both of these characters view the mission very differently and provide contrasting views. Naomi wants to stay on Earth with her family and doesn’t believe that a space mission is the right way to solve anything and is terrified of the risks. Leo is a patriot and wants to be part of the solution to save the world.

I really appreciated how Monir took the time to really explore the benefits and risks of trying to colonize another mysterious planet, or I guess in this case, technically, a mysterious moon. The two characters had great chemistry together as well. However, the plot line of training and elimination of recruits, although compelling, lasted too long for my tastes. In fact, it lasted the entire novel. Which means I still don’t know the key questions raised at the beginning of the narrative:

1) Will the teens reach Europa?
2) Is Europa inhabitable?
3) Will other humans come to Europa?
4) Is Europa the solution to a broken planet?

I guess I have to wait until the sequel to find out.

However, kudos to Monir for writing a compelling narrative that explores a possible future if global warming progresses too far and shows the risks of a dangerous solution. It is a timely topic to discuss before we reach such desperate measures and one that is swept under the rug too often.