The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen – Review & Giveaway

April 17, 2015 Giveaways (Ended), Reviews 18 ★★★★

The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen – Review & GiveawayThe Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen
Series: The Ark #1
Published by Harper Voyager on 3/26/15
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: The Author
My content rating: YA (Some violence, Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4 Stars

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…

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My Take

The Ark is an exciting new dystopian with lots of surprises. The story follows Char, who fights to be one of the few who make their way onto the Ark before the imminent destruction of Earth. The Ark is headed toward a distant planet, where the inhabitants plan to create a new civilization. But it doesn’t take long for Char to find out that a simple, peaceful future is not in the cards for her. She quickly becomes a fugitive and embroiled in multiple plots and plans that are far beyond her control. Her life is in constant danger – and through it all she wonders if she’s even worth saving.

What I loved:

  • Char. At first I was nervous that I wasn’t going to like Char. She’s one of those characters who’s a bit hard on the outside – she puts up a protective shell so that she can avoid truly feeling the inevitable dismay and disappointment of her family and other people around her. But it soon becomes apparent that, while Char did make some pretty frustrating choices when she was younger and rebelled against her “poor me” life of privilege, she was actually trying to turn over a new leaf and be a better daughter and a better sister. Circumstances made that kind of impossible for her, and yeah, she was a little bitter about that, but she was still a good person underneath it all. I love characters who have layers like that – who you can’t peg right away, and even once you think you have, you find that you may have been wrong. Char’s complicated relationships (both with her family and with others) play a big role in the book and add a lot to the story!
  • Blurry lines between the good guys and the bad guys. You all know how I love when a book hangs out in that gray area! Well, this one definitely does that. I already mentioned that Char does some questionable things, but proves herself to be a better person that you first imagine her to be. It turns out that there are many characters in this book who kind of skate that thin line between being a “good guy” and a “bad guy” – and choosing sides isn’t always easy. Char has a hard time deciding exactly where her loyalties lie, and for good reason. There are a lot of factors at play on the Ark (and even before she gets onto the Ark), and none of them can be ignored.
  • Lots of surprises. I felt like, throughout this entire book, I never quite knew where it was going. I just constantly felt a little off balance and surprised, which I kind of loved. There were characters that I thought I understood, and then I’d find that I didn’t have them quite figured out after all, and there were several twists that I didn’t see coming!

The negatives:

  • Definite cliffhanger. This was one of those times where reading on my Kindle was a detriment because I wasn’t paying enough attention to how close I was to the end of the book. It just ended. And I was like, “WHAT?! NOOOOOO!!!!” Looking on Goodreads and on Nolen’s site, I see no specific mention of a date for a sequel (in fact, I had to do some digging to find out for sure that this will be a trilogy), so now I’m kind of desperate to know how long I’ll be left hanging!
  • Slight love triangle. There is a tiny bit of a love triangle in the book that I wasn’t too sure about at first, but it did definitely serve a real purpose in the book, and it wasn’t a true love triangle, so it wasn’t too bad. (And I really loved the main romance, even though I didn’t talk much about it because I feel like it would be kind of spoilery).

If you’re a fan of YA sci fi or dystopians, I’d definitely recommend this book! It’s a fast, entertaining read with plenty of excitement! Now I just need the next one!! I give The Ark 4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Excerpt4

On the last day of Earth, I couldn’t find my hairbrush. That probably seems like a silly thing to worry about, what with the imminent destruction of, well, everything, but my mom was always after me about my usual ratty ponytail. Normally, I’d ignore her. Or, if I were having a really bad day, I’d tell her what she could do with her hairbrush. But like I said, it was the last day of Earth. And I figured, since it was the last time she’d ever see me, I wanted it to go smoothly. I wanted her to remember me, if not fondly, then at least without anger.

A girl can dream.

I slipped out of my cell as soon as the door swung open. I’d done the same every day for the past month, and my family had yet to show up. Their OPT—Off-Planet Transport—took off in eighteen hours, so they still had time. Barely. I couldn’t blame them if they didn’t come. It wasn’t hard to imagine that they’d rather escape to the stars without so much as a backward glance at me, their big disappointment. Even my father’s influence couldn’t persuade the government to give me a spot on an OPT.

Turns out, when humankind is deciding which of its children to save, the last place it looks is in prison.

But I was pretty sure they’d come. West had said as much in his last transmission. The thought of my younger brother actually halted me mid-step, like one of those punches in the gut where you can’t breathe for a few seconds.

“Looking for something?” The lazy drawl floated out of the nearest cell.

Against my better instincts, I turned to see Cassa lying on her bunk, her arm draped across Kip. My Kip. Or at least, my ex-Kip. Whatever. In twenty-two hours, I wouldn’t have to think about him anymore.

See? Silver lining. And they called me a perpetual pessimist at my last psych workup.

They barely fit next to each other on the flimsy mattress, but that wasn’t the weird part. The guys’ ward was separated by a substantial metal wall. We were kept apart during evening hours, for obvious reasons. Not that anyone cared anymore. The med staff had been the first to go, followed by the cleaning crew, followed by the kitchen crew. To show you where girls like me fell on the government’s list of priorities, there was still a skeleton crew of guards lurking around, despite the fact that I hadn’t had a real meal for going on a week. The guards would be gone soon, too, and then there’d be no one in here but us chickens.

I figured either Kip had a key, or the guards had left already. A key could be useful. My curiosity got the best of me. “How’d he get in here before the first bell?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “I got some tricks you ain’t seen, babe. Why don’t you join us? End of the world and all.”

The guards were gone, then. I felt a small trill of anxiety deep in my chest. If the guards were gone, my family was even less likely to show. But it was never smart to show fear. “The Pinball could be headed straight for this building, and I still wouldn’t be desperate enough to touch you. Oh, wait. Guess you don’t have to take my word for it.”

I turned to leave, but he continued. “Now is that any way to treat your dear ole partners? Be nice or I won’t give you back your stuff.”

“Ugh, you were in my room?” I flexed my shoulder blades, making sure my gun was still tightly secured between them.

“Don’t worry, Char. I didn’t handle the merchandise. Didn’t want to wake you up. Just lifted me a few keepsakes.” He pronounced my name the way I like: Char, as in charred. Something that got burned.

I wasn’t sure what Kip and Cassa were planning, but I knew I wouldn’t like it. They were thieves and liars. I would know. I used to be one of them. That was before the last job, when Cassa had attacked an elderly man in the home we were robbing. She’d kicked him until he stopped fighting back. Kip had called her off after a few licks, but I just stood there, staring. The old man looked at me, like right at me, while we made our getaway, and my stomach twisted into a knot so tight that I tasted bile. That was the moment I knew I wanted out.

But by then, no one believed me. Or, if they did, no one cared. Except for Kip and Cassa, of course. They’d taken the news pretty hard, to put it lightly.

If I lunged for the box, I could probably grab my hairbrush and get out of there. I wouldn’t have time for more than that. Then again, I’d be doing exactly what they expected, and I didn’t have time for delays. My family could be in the commissary any second now.

“Ahem. Seeing as it’s your last day of life, I might let you have one thing back,” said Kip.

“In exchange for what?”

“I’m hurt. All our time together, and you still don’t believe in my inherent generosity. But now that you mention it, I’ve got a hankering for some peanut butter crackers.”

“Sorry, Kip. I’m fresh out of food. Kinda like everyone else.”

“Nice try, Charrr.” He drew my name out, as though tasting it. “I saw them yesterday. Figured you were hiding them under your pillow when I couldn’t find them last night.”

“You figured wrong.”

All I could think about was my brother’s face. And how I had this one last chance to apologize to my parents, for everything. I shrugged and turned to leave.

That was probably a mistake.

About the Author

Laura Liddell NolenLaura 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.

 

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18 Responses to “The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen – Review & Giveaway”

    • Nicole

      Yes, it did remind me a bit of The 100 at first (I was a bit worried about that), but it was definitely very different.

    • Nicole

      The love triangle is related to the main character, but it was honestly barely a triangle at all. It was more like there was another character (besides the main love interest) who had fallen for the main character, but she never seriously considered him, except in a few small moments when she was just kind of imagining a simpler life. So, I don’t know if triangle is really the right word for it. The book does have a similarish concept to The 100, but it was executed completely differently.

  1. Jaime Lester

    I just won a copy of this book, and it was the first time that I had heard of it. It sounds like a good story, but I am glad that I found your review. Now, I am a little less nervous to read it!

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