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The story of Noah Zarc is set in a future post-apocalyptic world where a cataclysm has rendered earth uninhabitable and killed off all plant and animal life. Mankind, being ingenious and highly adaptable, survive by moving to Mars and Venus. The Zarcs have been given the mission to travel back in time and bring back a male and female of each of the lost species to re-populate earth with the lost animals. This is of course a direct reference to the bible story of ‘Noah’s Arc’.
The Noah family consists of the three children Sam, Noah and Hamilton and their parents. On one of their sorties to rescue an extinct species in the ice age, the parents encounter their arch-enemy Haon, who captures Mrs Zarc and leaves father Noah stranded in the past. As the three kids rush to rescue their father, their ship gets damaged and they have to live for a few days in the ice age. There, Noah becomes friends with a girl named Adina who stows away in their ship on their return. There is a budding romance here between the two friends which has however not been fully developed. The rest of the story revolves around saving their mother from Haon’s clutches and stopping him from destroying all they have worked for over the years.
Noah is a paraplegic who I found to be a bit immature but extremely brave. He does not wallow in his disability and the technology of this future world helps him take care of himself. He is also a very accomplished pilot and his flight sequences are extremely well dramatized. He is somewhat socially awkward and struggles to find the right words while talking with Adina when he first meets her. All the other characters are quite likable as well. Hamilton, the brainiac of the family develops and maintains all the technology around and Sam takes care of all the animals in the absence of their parents. Adina is quite amazing, maybe a bit too amazing for my liking. Even though she is from the ice age, over 11,000 years in the past, she has no trouble accepting and understanding all the technology she is bombarded with. This was the only thing I found unbelievable in the entire story.
I loved all the technology used to develop the story further. I am not a sucker for ‘correct’ scientific application in fiction and I tend to give authors a lot of leeway with their use of technology. Being set a thousand years ahead of our time, I can believe that a lot of technology used here could be developed by them. This includes the generous use of time travel through the story. Then there is Noah’s ‘wheelchair’ which can tackle all sorts of terrain and suits which can help a paraplegic walk. Also included here are machines operated through commands relayed through thought and suits which can fly and bear the harsh climates on other planets. The biggest one of course is the Arc itself. It may seem unnatural that the Arc can hold all the numerous creatures along with the extensive environments needed to maintain them in the dimensions of a few hundred square kilometres which are given by the author. Can you imagine having a ‘sea’ big enough to house giant whales and a savannah to house elephants as well as lots of other species in this small area? Well, I would not argue with the author on this as it does not hamper the story in any way and I know this is fiction after all. But, this is one area which could definitely trip science aficionados.
The story does touch on a number of issues which could merit a serious discussion even today. Firstly, there is the way in which current human development is going on and the exploitation of natural resources for this purpose. Will this lead to the deterioration of the environment to such an extent that human existence could be threatened? The debate whether humans and other species have equal right to earth’s resources and should we look to save species from extinction (or even bring them back) is also prevalent throughout the story. One thing I liked here was the politics of this ’evolved’ future world. Man does not evolve enough to solve all their problems and people are still dissatisfied with the politicians and there is still favouritism in the world.
The story of Noah Zarc, although set in a science fiction world is really a thriller, and I can say that the action never stops! Devoid of any major fight sequences, it still does not lack action. Some of the flight sequences are edge-of-the-seat affairs, as Noah is seen trying either to follow someone or at other times, run away from people following him. The story also has a number of twists and you really don’t know the intentions of the bad guy until quite late in the story. There are a couple of big twists in the story which really define the direction the story takes. These, of course I will not discuss and let you find out about them by yourself.
I did have a problem digesting the fact that people in the ice age would be so intelligent and willing to accept such alien technology. Also the fact that Adina, who is from the ice age, can actually understand time travel seems a bit too far-fetched. Such ready acceptance of the technology without really being completely awed (and somewhat frightened) by it did not go down too well with me. I think the author scrimped on words here, and some, maybe a lot more description of how Adina felt could have made things better.
Finally, I believe the author leaves the story at a place where it can be carried forward by a sequel and I can see one coming out. Overall, I just loved the story as well as the characters and hope to see it continue soon!