Qualify by Vera Nazarian

Qualify is a decently written YA sci-fi featuring a suitably strong heroine and interesting world building. At 600 pages, it really could have used tighter editing and a bit more restraint. But the story is easy to follow and the large page count is not overly daunting. Believability issues do require a suspension of disbelief and the characters are interesting, if a bit simple.

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Story: An asteroid is to destroy the Earth in a year. But in advance of the asteroid comes humans who migrated off the Earth in the far past – from the fabled Atlantis. They have evolved differently on a far planet – and only have enough room on their ships for a small percentage of the Earth’s population. Their offer: to take a small selection of teens who would be best able to adapt to Atlantis tech and society. In order to determine those who will go, qualification centers are set up across the world. Gwen Lark and her family (2 brothers and a sister) enter the qualifications – it will be a tough road ahead for all four Gs (Gwen, Gordie, George, and Grace). Especially for Gwen since her high school crush Logan is also trying to qualify and a hunky Atlantean instructor also distracts her quite a bit.

Obviously, there is a bit of a love triangle (though it isn’t about the guys falling madly in love with her at first sight and is mostly Gwen mooning over two boys). But it did get to be a bit much – did we really need the pool scene with the boys in bathing suits just so Gwen could do some body admiring? I was bored with the two perfect guys pretty fast.

The qualifications are interesting but I couldn’t help but feel there should have been much better ways to determine suitability for candidacy to leave Earth. Too many of the qualifications required great luck – never a good indicator of a person’s assets. It’s really dumb that the ‘best and the brightest’ can be taken out by aggression and dumb chance. Why would the Atlanteans wish to take the ones willing to kill easily to forward their own aims?

Our heroine, Gwen, becomes quite a unique snowflake, including discovering she has a distinct and rare ability that is highly prized by the Atlanteans. Even then, they are quite content to let her get killed in the qualifications (which REALLY doesn’t make sense to me). Of course, that special ability causes the reason for her to get closes to the hunky (and special snowflake himself) Atlantean commander. It felt a bit too easy and forced. For that reason, it felt more middle grade level than YA, at times. And since the Atlantis world building has a foundation in music, a lot of the intricacy of the world building was lost on me.

There are hints where the book will go from this first volume (the qualification). The story flowed smoothly enough and I enjoyed reading it despite the detractions. I look forward to seeing where the author takes it from here. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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