Monday, May 29, 2017

Mars One by Jonathan Maberry

Tristan and his family are amongst the few who will travel to and prepare the very first colony on Mars. It's a plan that's been in the works for years, with each and every chosen person and family having been vetted and tested exhaustively. What's more, for a family like Tristan's everyone has to be in agreement and on board. If just one of them waffles on the decision, they're all out. But none of them have and the day for launch is fast approaching. 

The Mars One mission is a feat that the whole world will be watching with great anticipation. But not everyone is exactly supportive. A group calling themselves the Neo-Luddites has made their views on the mission very clear. As their final days on Earth come to an end, Tristan is faced with not only his final goodbyes - broadcast for all the world to see thanks to reality TV deals that help fund the mission - but also hoping that everything will go smoothly and without uproar from their detractors. 

And that's only the beginning because once they're in space, all they'll have to rely on is each other. 

This newest teen release from Jonathan Maberry doesn't have any zombies or elite soldiers. There's none of the horror I've personally come to know him for - at least not in the traditional sense. But there's plenty of thrills and chills, and even a little terror along the way.

Space does scare me. If I were given the option today, there's absolutely no way you could drag me onto a space ship. Well, maybe if you knocked me out first. I have no desire to travel in space - I've seen enough movies that show exactly what can go wrong - I'll keep my feet on the earth, thanks.

But in Mars One it's 2026 and a private company has funded and organized the very first mission to colonize Mars. They're not the only ones, China has plans to do so as well, but Mars One is going to be the first.

Tristan was just a kid when he and his family were picked to be part of the mission. His mother is an ace mechanic and his dad is a botanist. And they're not the only family going: a handful of equally qualified adults and their children will also be on board. So it's not just a mission full of scientists and astronauts, but one that includes four other teens as well.

The teens themselves are just as qualified to be there. Tristan's mom has a habit of dismantling every one of his possessions in an attempt to teach him how to fix just about anything. And she's succeeded, too. Of course this comes in handy as things begin to go wrong on board the two ships traveling to Mars!

While I enjoyed Mars One quite a bit, I have to admit it was something of a slow start for me. The first part of the book focuses on the latter days on Earth and I really wanted to get to the space adventure portion. But I have to admit that the story (and me as the reader) wouldn't have been served well by that - those last days on Earth are what gives us a chance to get to know Tristan and his family. So yes, skipping it would have gotten us to the action sooner, but I really don't want stories that are all action and no substance.

And that's what Maberry gives us with Mars One - a YA sci fi adventure with substance. There's ample attention paid to character and story development as well as the basics and mechanics of the mission itself. So in the end, these are characters I rooted for wholly (and - key - believed could and would be capable of the things they have to handle) and a plot that seemed as believable as if it were recounting the real preparation and dangers of man's first colony traveling to the Red Planet.

The addition of the inevitable reality TV aspect (because I very much believe that will be exactly what happens if/when a real colony mission starts getting discussed), added an extra layer of believability. Poor Tristan! I felt for him even more as his first love and breakup played out for all the world to see.

Mars One is, all in all, quite a great fun. And even without the zombies, scary enough for this space phobic reader!

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