When the food supply of Mars’ human settlement is decimated, seventeen-year-old Jessamyn Jaarda, the best pilot Mars Colonial has ever seen, flies to Earth to raid for food. Earth-Mars relations couldn’t be worse, and her brother is captured during the raid. Breaking rules of secrecy and no contact, Jess finds an ally in Pavel, nephew to a government official, but their friendship only makes more agonizing the choice before her: Save her brother or save her planet?
Saving Mars is a book of rare quality in the young adult market, and one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read, period. It is tightly plotted, beautifully written, brave and heart-rending. The main characters will thoroughly win your heart and the world-building is masterfully done. It’s well-written without being over-written, and complex without being inaccessible. I related to the main character, Jessamyn, from the very first line, and I was rooting for her all the way.
The pacing is never dull, but it doesn’t rush through character development or plot, either. Each of the major characters has depth and personality, and the relationships between them are genuine and deeply touching. The most poignant connections are between Jess and her autistic-spectrum brother, Ethan. Ethan is also, incidentally, the most well-rounded of the characters, and it’s easy to care about him just as much as Jess does.
Although Ethan’s “alter-ability” is never diagnosed in the book, according to the author he has an autism spectrum disorder. His difficulties are portrayed with depth and sensitivity, and they certainly don’t prevent him from being one of the strongest and most valuable members of the raiding party. In fact, he is easily one of the most courageous characters in the book.
I wish I could do the book justice in this review, but honestly I always find it harder to review books I love than ones I simply like. In the end all I can say is this: if you love indie, sci-fi, or young adult books at all, buy this book. You won’t be disappointed.
Title: Saving Mars
Author: Cidney Swanson
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication: Williams Press (July 26, 2012)
Author’s Website: http://cidneyswanson.com/