Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor (January 17, 2017)
Author Information: Website
Length: 288 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
The latest novel from best-selling author Carrie Vaughn, writer of the Kitty Norville urban fantasy series, Martians Abroad is a space opera for the Young Adult genre. Told in first person, this tale of Polly Newton, our narrator, and her twin brother Charles is filled with optimistic hope, adolescent travails, and scientific fun.
Set in a future where humanity has colonized the solar system, Polly and Charles are Martians, having happily lived out their short life on this colonial world ,where their mother is the director of operations. But while Polly is perfectly happy with her plans to be a starpilot and Charles with studying colony administration, the twins’ mother decides to enroll them in the prestigious Galileo Academy on Earth. The twins the first Martians to be accepted at Galileo, which means this should be a great honor, but, of course, it really isn’t viewed that way by either of them.
Polly’s dislike of her new school and home quickly turns into pure disgust and anger after she and her better-than-thou classmates begin to have problems. The usual juvenile peer disputes turn into something even more sinister however, as a mysterious conspiracy rears its ugly head, placing Polly right in the middle of the dangerous action.
Obviously, the focus of this story is the coming-of-age of Polly Newton. This youth having to accept responsibility for her life and attempt to emulate the capable, confident women she looks up to. But while Polly tends to triumph in her numerous trials, she always remains a realistic character. She has strengths, weaknesses, and does need direction and support from those around her. Nor does our young hero wallow in teen angst or dreary dystopian misery. Nope, she attempts to be optimistic and strong without ever slipping into the Mary Sue mold — unlike so many other Young Adult heroes.
But this is a space opera, right? So how can it have a space feel if it is set on Earth?
Actually, despite most of the story taking place on old Mother Earth, it keeps its decidedly science fiction feel by deft writing from Carrie Vaughn. Constantly, the author finds ways to integrate Mars and the Martian way of life into the narrative mix. The science fiction aspects of living on another planet always turn up in plausible ways. Physical differences between Polly and Charles and their fellow students are acknowledged and explained. The Martian colonial spirit highlighted and celebrated. Technological aspects of humanity in space are intelligently explored, creating a realistic political and societal setting for the tale. All of these elements (and more!) merging to create a satisfying space opera setting for the YA fun.
The only criticism I have with Martians Abroad is the ending. As so many other reviewers have also stated, it ends rather suddenly and unsatisfactorily, leaving one to wonder where the rest of the story can be found. Perhaps this issue can be chalked up to me just wishing to know even more than I did about the story and the characters, but I felt I should, at least, state that the ending left me a bit disappointed.
Space opera for the Young Adult crowd, Martians Abroad is futuristic, optimistic, and refreshingly fun. This tale sure to evoke an innocent sense of wonder in every person who reads it and remind them of a more hopeful time in the world when we all spent our days dreaming of the stars.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.