The Menagerie by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (206 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Taking care of a pet is one thing, but when orphaned teenager Karen Fox is kidnapped to service an interstellar zoo, she gets more than she bargained for.
We do this for they bring us happiness.
We do this because they have no defense, nowhere else to go and no one to care for them.
We do this in order so that they may teach us what it means to be different, and for us to embrace that difference.
Karen Fox, sixteen and recovering from a terrible car crash that claimed the lives of her parents, dreams only of becoming physically able once more. Hearing a strange voice that comes from somewhere near her hospital, she investigates and is kidnapped by an automated ship transporting interstellar animals to a safe haven. Knowing nothing about how to take care of them and disliking animals to begin with, Karen learns the value of caring for interstellar life. And when a marauding band of poachers attacks the vessel, intending to seize all the animals, Karen is forced to fight for her own life as well as the animals she has come to care for.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
Karen was well rounded and brave. It was fascinating to see how she responded to all of the strange events on her adventures. Some of them changed her in wonderful ways that still fit in well with everything I’d observed about her personality in the first chapter or two. This was especially true when it came to what Karen thought about the physical disabilities she’d recently acquired after a terrible accident. While I don’t know what Mr. Frankel’s future plans are, I’d definitely be seeing what this character does with her life next if he ever decides to write a sequel.
The communication in this tale left a lot to be desired. There were many times when her abductors refused to tell the main character things that she desperately needed to know for reasons that were never really explored. I would have understood if this happened once or twice, but the fact that it kept happening over and over again didn’t make sense to me. All of this secret keeping only made Karen’s work harder than it needed to be. The storyline also didn’t need any of this extra conflict in order to be interesting. I would have enjoyed it just as much had the aliens given Karen all of the information about her mission that she needed as soon as she arrived onboard.
One of my favorite parts of reading this book was seeing how vividly the author described all of the alien creatures that were on the automated ship. I could imagine exactly what every species looked, sounded, and smelled like. In many cases, I would have loved to sit next to their enclosures and gotten to know them! They sounded so beautiful and unique.
The Menagerie was adventurous and action-packed. I’d recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered what kinds of life might be found on other worlds.