First off, I am way behind on updating the blog and letting everyone know how NaNoWriMo went. I’m sure you’re all breathless to hear, heh. For now, let me say that I hit 50k words on November 21st, and have been out of steam ever since, ugh. The book itself is half done, but it is now the first of what is probably going to be five books o_O Anyways, more later!
Today is Pearl Harbor Day and it is also the day that I host the Noah Zark: Mammoth Trouble Blog Tour!
Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, by D. Robert Pease, proved to be a delightful read overall. The main character, Noah Zarc, is a twelve year old struggling to survive against the oppression of his older siblings. The eldest is his sister, Sam, a gear head who is filling in as the caretaker of her two younger brothers while the Zarc parents are off collecting animals for their modern space arc. Next, is Hamilton, a total egg head who seems to understand physics much better than social interaction. Rounding out the children in the family, Noah is the adventurous type who starts off the book with a daring rescue of a pair of marmosets from modern day earth, having stolen his brother’s experimental thermal suit to make the rescue. On his way back to the arc ship he has to dodge assassin bots sent after him by his family’s sworn enemy Haon.
Oh, and by the way, young Noah is a cripple, having been born a paraplegic. I am rather glad that Mr. Pease gave Noah this disadvantage. He also did it without foisting on the reader any political correctness. Noah is crippled and he has managed to find ways to deal with his physical shortcomings and still have a much more adventurous and thrilling life than most any other boy his age in his time period is able. The one time he tries to use his disability as a cry fro sympathy Sam immediately shuts him down, reminding him that he gets along just fine.
The Zarc children receive a distress signal from their father, who is tracking down Irish Deer in 8,500 BCE. (The Irish Deer, or Irish Elk, is a now extinct species of deer that was the largest physical species of deer to have ever lived). The family’s archenemy, Haon, kidnapped the children’s mother and stole the space/time ship that the elder Zarcs had taken to pre-historic Earth.
The youths launch a rescue mission, moving their massive arc ship through time and space to reunite with their father and begin the quest to save their mother from the clutches of Haon. At the point of reuniting with their father, their flyer is attacked by an angry mammoth. Noah, being the pilot of the family, manages to save the flyer, but kills the mammoth in the process. He is heartbroken at the incident, feeling grief for the majestic animal. However, the primitives that Father Zarc has become friendly with hail Noah as a hero. The dead mammoth will be feeding the local tribe for months to come!
Cue the female puppy love interest! Adina, an orphan child among the tribe takes an instant liking to Noah and shows him all about her life with the tribe and some of the sights of the area where she lives. Sadly, though, she is an orphan and as such has no family to directly care for her or protect her. In the past she has just scraped by and during a bad hunting season she might well be cast off from the tribe and left to starve. She takes the risk of stowing away onto the Zarc’s flyer and returns with the family to space and the future.
With their father with them once again, the Zarcs set out to rescue Mrs. Zarc. This proves more dangerous and complicated than expected and the family must travel to late medieval Scotland to Haon’s castle, then to the 31st Century to confront the villain at his Mars based lair.
The boys in the Zarc family prove themselves to be bull headed youths as both Noah and his older brother, Hamilton, make desperate bids to save their mother, neither one asking their father’s permission before heading out. Hamilton fails but learns important information about what Haon is up to. Noah and Adina arrive to the Mars base just as Haon is leaving, on his way to enact his diabolical plan.
Having rescued Mother Zarc the children give direct chase to Haon as Mrs. Zarc explains some of the things that are going on. At some point in the past the Earth suffered a cataclysm, some of which is described as having been human caused, some naturally caused. Humanity fled the world and took up places on the Earth’s moon, Mars and Venus. The political body, the Poligarchy, has arisen to rule over the remnants of humanity. Haon was raised on Venus, a very inhospitable planet filled with human misery and suffering.
The Zarc family has been given permission to go back in time and rescue animals in a replication of the Noah’s Arc story and return them to the arc ship in hopes of breeding them and later reintroducing their offspring to the Earth. Haon is convinced that this is a foolish idea as Earth is being quarantined against any humans returning while those on Venus are suffering daily. He concocts a deadly nano-bot virus that will destroy any life on Earth other than humans and plants, demanding that the rescued animals be simply put in a zoo and the Earth turned over to the people of Venus so that they might have a better life.
Racing to stop Haon, the Zarcs find themselves in harrowing aerial dogfights and face to face with a man convinced of his cause and ready to kill them and all the animals they have saved to see his cause brought to completion. He is even willing to sacrifice himself for his convictions, making him extremely dangerous!
The book is a nice, light read that I am sure will gain the interest of middle grade readers, for whom the book is intended. While there is dalliance with time travel, space flight and neural transmitter inserts (which allows Noah to control is mag chair and the flyers), the science is not confusing and does not distract from the reading. We get to see how Noah deals with his disability (having to use a magnetic levitation chair and servo enhanced extravehicular suits to get around), his relations with his siblings, his parents, the young Adina and even with the big bad of the book.
The emotional content is rather light as well, which I feel is fitting for its intended audience. While there are some reveals in the book that have serious impact on Noah’s world view and his view of himself and some of the things that he has grown up believing, it is not too major nor distracting.
There were a few things that I nitpicked at during the reading of the book. Mostly, MG readers are not going to notice these things, but I will give a little disclosure on them nonetheless. The cavemen that Noah and his father interact with are way too accepting of spaceships, magnetic levitation chairs and have a vocabulary that is much too large for primitives living in the 86th century BCE. Father Zarc created a translator with which they can communicate with the cavemen, but then says that the cavemen’s language is a derivative of Hebrew. The cavemen are placed in Europe, which is outside of the historical zone for Semitic languages (being the Arabian peninsula and the Levant). The oldest known Semitic civilization was from the 23rd Century BCE.
Adina makes a reference to a singular god at one point, though the earliest known remains of worship, Gobekli Tepe (from southern Turkey), dates from approximately the same time period as the cavemen, the remains show an animistic religious culture. I found it hard to believe that cavemen would have a sense of monotheism, especially as they predate antediluvian civilization.
Mr. Pease did remember that ship acceleration in deep space does result in g-force and physical stress, which I give him high points for. I did have a problem seeing how the wild animals in the arc ship were able to handle zero-g environment, though he did point out that the larger animals would have had a harder time dealing with zero-g than smaller ones.
I give Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble 3.5 stars. I would have given it more had there been more care given to the language and concepts barriers between the Zarc family of the 31st century and the primitives of 86th century BCE. I feel that it might have been more enriching to the story, overall.
Today I have an excerpt from the kids science fiction novel, Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble. It makes a great read for kids who have loved books such as the Percy Jackson or Artemis Fowl series. And stay tuned after the excerpt to see how you could win a $50 Amazon Gift card.
Without further ado, an exciting, aerial dog-fight from Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble.
D. Robert Pease
California sped by in a blur below. I hugged the terrain as closely as I dared. A line of mountains in front of us made me smile.
“Computer, keep track of Haon’s location.” I slowed the ship slightly. “We want to make sure he keeps following.”
“XB Class is two-point-seven kilometers behind and closing,” the computer said. “Altitude five hundred meters.”
“Perfect,” I said.
“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Mom looked a little pale. Adina on the other hand seemed to be enjoying the excitement.
The mountain range soared in front of us. I pulled back and skimmed along the peaks.
“Missile lock confirmed.”
I accelerated over a ridge of granite.
“Two Mark 7 missiles fired.”
After we crested the ridge I plunged back down. The DUV III streaked toward a green valley below. I heard an explosion as one of the rockets clipped a peak behind us. I banked left and climbed up over another ridge. The second rocket didn’t make the turn and smashed into a granite wall.
“That was close!” Adina yelled.
Once more I hugged the terrain. The ground below was broken up by never-ending rows of sharp granite peaks.
“XB Class is still within missile range.”
“Good.” Finally the terrain below smoothed out. We sped over brown desert. I pushed the DUV III faster and pulled away from Haon.
“Just a little further.” Finally I saw what I was looking for. The desert gave way to rocky terrain again and a huge chasm came into view.
“The Grand Canyon?” Mom said.
I grinned. “I always wanted to try this.” I banked right and dropped into the canyon. Even after I lowered our speed, the canyon walls still sped by in a blur.
“XB Class closing. One kilometer.”
“Seven hundred fifty meters.”
“Missile lock confirmed.”
The DUV III screamed around a column of red rock.
“Four Mark 7 missiles fired.”
“He can’t have too many missiles left.” I skimmed over a flat butte, then dropped down toward the green Colorado River. Rockets exploded around us, smashing into ancient stone.
“One Mark 7 missile remains. Impact in five-seconds.”
I spotted the perfect outcropping of stone. I skimmed the surface of the river, mashed the yoke left, and whizzed behind it. The rocket blew a hole through the shale. Fragments of stone pinged all over the DUV III.
“Those are getting too close for comfort.” Mom dug her fingernails into her armrests.
“I need the right spot.” I banked, turned, rose, and fell while we rocketed through the canyon. Just ahead, the canyon walls came together. “That should do.”
I slowed and let Haon close in. I dropped toward the river. He followed.
“XB Class is two hundred meters back. Missile lock confirmed.”
A few more heartbeats, then I yanked back on the yoke. The DUV III groaned, but her wings caught the air and lifted her up. I kept pulling back as the ship strained toward the blue sky above, then curved back around to the canyon floor. I’d done a complete loop.
Haon’s ship was now in front of us. I dove forward. He couldn’t turn—he was surrounded by stone walls left and right. He couldn’t climb out of the canyon—I moved in to block his ship.
Just ahead, the canyon took a sharp turn left.
The DUV III skimmed above the XB Class, Haon hurtling toward the rock. We were maybe ten meters away from the canyon wall when he managed to pull up high enough to scrape over the cliff’s edge.
He smashed against our underside—and flew out from beneath us with a wrenching tear. The vertical stabilizers on his ship dangled.
I clipped an outcropping of stone and the DUV III spun left. I used up every trick I knew to straighten her out, but the ship continued to spin.
We dropped toward a plateau of rock below.
“Landing thrusters!” I yelled. The DUV III continued to twirl like a top. A loud grinding noise rent the cabin.
We hit the ground.
Dust and debris filled the air while I fought with the controls. For several long heartbeats, the ship rumbled and shook. Finally everything went quiet.
And Haon’s ship was gone.
Blog Tour Notes
Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction.
Life couldn’t be better.
But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth… for the second time.
Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com (available in paperback or as an eBook) or the online retailer of your choice (more links below).
Guess what? You could win a $50 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $50 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on this post too!
Win 1 of 5 copies of the paperback version of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by entering the giveaway on GoodReads.
D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.
Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at www.drobertpease.com
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