Ocassionally Amazon offers a few Kindle books for free (I receive a daily list from BookBub [that’s my unofficial plug for a free service]), and as I recall this was one of those freebies. I was impressed with the star rating on Amazon and, as I enjoy sci-fi and YA, this seemed like the right choice for me.
Being a YA novel, we know that we will see a teen with abilities better than most, and someone daring, and perhaps reckless, and we are not disappointed here. Author Cidney Swanson does a nice job creating a a typical 17 year old girl, despite her fantastic ability as a pilot and growing up on a world unfamiliar to most. Jessamyn looks after her autistic brother and flies about Mars with intuitive abilities.
The relationship between Earth and Mars is tense, with Earth having blockades to prevent the Marsians from leaving the red planet. However, because of difficulties in being able to grow their own food, the Marsians ocassionally raid Earth to gather food rations to bring back to Mars. A raid is being prepared, and Jessamyn and her brother are on a team planning to run the blockade, get to Earth, retrieve the necessary supplies and return.
The trip isn’t without its casualties, but Jessamyn and her brother survive, only to get to the foreign planet, Earth, where a whole new set of obstacles await (the strangest of these is that of a body-swapping program). On Earth, Jess befriends a young man named Pavel, who is related to an important government official. Without knowing why Jess seems to lack some basic knowledge of human affairs, Pavel manages to be a tutor, and ultimately a bit of a savior.
We can sense that there might be a romance blossoming (it is YA), but it is not fleshed out (yet).
Mostly this read quite smoothly and enjoyably. There were times I felt that author Swanson spent a little too much time trying to explain some things worked. Or too much time trying to establish a back-story for things or people that didn’t need it. The stakes are high (good!) and our main characters necessarily have to step it up to survive and succeed. This is wonderful storytelling for an adventure/sci-fi novel. The characters seem real. But the settings tend to feel a bit contrived and sometimes forced.
Even so, for YA space opera, this is a remarkable book. I’m actually looking forward to book two.
Looking for a good book? This is fun, adventurous sci-fi for the Young Adult reader!
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author: Cidney Swanson
series: Saving Mars #1
publisher: Williams Press
paperback, 384 pages