Mothership is a 2012, young adult, science fiction, romance novel written by Isla Neal and Martin Leicht. Set in the year 2074, it tells the story of Elvia Nara; a pregnant 16 year old attending the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers – a decommissioned space cruiser that was converted into a school and orbits the earth. When the ship is hijacked by a team of sexy, ray gun carrying space commandos and one of them is her absentee baby-daddy, Cole Archer, Elvie finds herself fighting to save herself, her unborn child and the rest of her classmates.
If the synopsis is any indication, this novel is hardly serious and is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s wacky, humorous and more or less a parody of every genre it fits into. Especially books written in those genres and aimed at the female, young adult demographic.
It’s your typical story of a teenage girl who fell for a beautiful-beyond-reason teenage boy, had sex with him one time and whoops! Wound up pregnant.
It has all of the trappings of that kind of story, but is made interesting by witty dialogue and a snarky, sarcastic teen for a main character, Elvie Nara.
This is not to say that Elvie – or the book itself – is perfect. She is a fun, charming and entertaining character to read but, she does feel a little flat.
She’s very intelligent, highly motivated, goal oriented and knows what she wants and does what she must to get it. Every other word out of her mouth is “like”, but she is a teenager so that is expected. Her being snarky and sarcastic is a tad cliche, as is her interest in “vintage” or “throwback” pop culture but, one thing about her that isn’t, is that she doesn’t really fall into the narrative traps and tropes that heroines in YA novels often do.
She also feels too current for a teenager living in the year 2074. What in this day and age is already considered “vintage” – like films from the Classical Hollywood Era (she is a huge fan of James Dean) – are “vintage” for her. Hardly, if ever, is anything from the 2000’s or 2010’s referenced or in her field of interest. It would make more sense if it were things from this decade that are what she was interested in as “classics.”
She is fairly developed but her development could have gone further.
Every other character is one dimensional. They don’t get as much development as Elvie and she herself doesn’t feel all that developed to begin with. They have a single character trait and that’s pretty much all there is to them; the weird one, the bitchy one, the slutty one, the dumb one etc.
Despite this though, the are all quite amusing characters who are enjoyable to read about. Especially Elvie’s best friend Ducky and the other students at Hanover.
The novel has the same plot structure as the film Deadpool; an A story that is told in a linear fashion and a B story that is a flashback to the events that lead to the A story and is also told in linear fashion. It is by no means confusing however, and is very easy to follow. It was probably the best way to tell this story, as it is difficult to imagine it being completely linear and still working and having the same impact.
There is a lot of death – and brutal deaths at that – in this novel. More than and in ways that one would not expect for a novel of this tone. And for a novel that doesn’t quite take itself seriously, it does not treat the deaths of its characters as trivial. This is perhaps the one area in which the novel is serious.
The characters that die however, are the same secondary characters with little development or filler characters that were just there. So when they die the reader doesn’t really care. And although it is a literal life or death situation, the reader never feels like Elvie is in any real danger. There is some fear for other characters, but never her.
What is ultimately revealed as the reason for the sexy space commandos hijacking the ship is totally unexpected, straight out of a sci-fi B movie and fairly interesting. It would make a pretty good novel all on its own. The bad guy’s plan, though, doesn’t make much sense because what they want to do will, in the end, leave them at an insurmountable disadvantage. This is likely done on purpose however; an exampled of bad guys with lofty plans that were not well thought through and will not work out for them in the end.
The writing here is satisfactory and as a story told from the first person perspective, Neal and Leicht capture Elvie’s personality very well. There are instances of heavy info dumps, but they work with the narrative. There are a few plot conveniences – like Elvie’s expertise in computer science and engineering which come in very handy in this perilous situation and maintaining suspense and mystery by purposefully keeping characters, and by extension the audience, in the dark as to what is going on because rules and secrecy – but overall the novel is well written.
If you liked the film Juno then you will like this book. It’s basically that – in terms of tone and particularly the characterisation and personality of the main character – but in space with sexy space commandos. It has its flaws, but it is an incredibly fun read, totally enjoyable and is sure to make you laugh – or at least chuckle. It is definitely worth reading.
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