Alexandra Monir talks to us about her newest book The Final Six, an action-packed adventure guaranteed to thrill you (and make you wish the movie was out already)!
About ‘The Final Six’ by Alexandra Monir
When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.
For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.
As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.
Our interview with Alexandra Monir, author of ‘The Final Six’
Can you give us a quick elevator pitch about what your new novel, ‘The Final Six,’ is about?
The Final Six is about a mission to find a new home for humans on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. With our own planet largely destroyed by climate change, the United Nations and international space agencies team up to send a six-person crew to Europa—but the rigors and requirements of the mission mean that it needs to be a group of young astronauts. To find the best candidates, the space agencies scout and handpick twenty-four teenage finalists from around the world—including our narrators, Leo from Italy and Naomi from the U.S. The finalists are sent to International Space Training Camp in Houston, where they’ll compete for one of the six spots—but it’s the kind of competition that might be a lot more dangerous to win than to lose.
What inspired you to write this book?
It was the most random and magical burst of inspiration! I was listening to a radio interview with an aspiring astronaut, who was applying to be a candidate for this experimental mission to colonize Mars, and that’s when the idea hit me like a lightning bolt: what if the conditions on Earth were to make this type of quest no longer voluntary—but an urgent, government-mandated mission, complete with a military-style draft? And what if those believed to have the highest odds of surviving this mission, and remaining fertile by the time the new planet is terraformed and ready for colonization, are the teenagers? As soon as this idea hit me, I ran to my computer and started writing. It was just instant!
As a space fanatic, what was your favorite part of writing this space adventure?
The research! I got to check a number of things off my bucket list while writing The Final Six, from attending space camp to meeting with the leading NASA scientists working on an upcoming robotic mission to Europa! It was all a thrill.
I loved having second-generation Iranian-American as a main point of view character. Can you tell us a little bit about that writing experience?
Writing Naomi’s character was actually one of the most special parts of this process. Throughout my childhood and teen years, in all the zillions of books I read, I never got to see myself on the page—a first-generation American from a family of Iranian immigrants. For that reason, I often say that writing The Final Six was like giving my younger self a present. I so wanted to give Iranian-Americans a heroine of our own, and I hope readers from all over the world will be able to relate to Naomi.
Congrats on the movie deal with Sony! If you got to pick, who would you cast in the movie?
Thank you so much! I think Ansel Elgort would be great for the role of Leo. For Naomi, it’s my dream that we discover an Iranian-American actress and she becomes the next big thing!
What’s one scene you absolutely hope makes it into the movie completely intact/unchanged and why?
The ending scene is a big one, so I would definitely want the movie to end the same way. I can’t say more than that without revealing spoilers!
What do you hope people learn from Leo and Naomi?
I hope Leo and Naomi inspire courage—from the courage to go after their dreams to fight for what they believe in and to love freely. I also would love it if Naomi inspired more girls to get into STEM early in their educations.
What do you hope people learn from the story?
It would be amazing if this story caused readers to think about the long-term effects of climate change and get inspired to take action, big or small, to help prevent the outcome described in The Final Six. On an emotional level, I hope the story makes readers feel like anything is possible—and that they’re never too young to do something extraordinary!