Reviewed by Sunday S. Smith
By Cidney Swanson
Publisher: William Press
Length: 384 pages
Save her brother or save her planet? 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 Mars?About the Book:
Mars was settled long, long ago but somewhere in those past years relations between the colonists and Earth became strained, then broken. So many decades have passed that almost all the people of earth, including their government officials, believe the colony died out decades ago.
Circling the dry Martian world are satellites equipped with lasers to stop anything from leaving the planet. Unfortunately for Marsians (as they call themselves), they cannot grow their own food. They must make a trek to earth every 20 years or so to trade trillium – an abundant Mars resource – for food rations – the kind that will last decades. Only the best and bravest pilots can outfox the laser cannons.
Jessamyn is just such a pilot – if only she hadn’t crash landed a ship against orders. And this raiding mission is different. Her brother, Ethan, must travel to Earth. He is entrusted with a secret mission that may forever save Mars – if they can make it through the cannons, if they can reach their contacts on Earth and if he can complete his mission.
I went through this book like wind through a screen door. There are so many ways this fast moving novel captures the reader. Swanson does not waste column inches describing every little thing but let’s the reader discover much on their own. Walkabout suit? The why and the how becomes apparent as do the wet rations during the development of the story. Swanson does a great job of knowing what needs to be described (Mars scape; the crash landing, the hall) from what the reader can fill in as they read. The characters rise seamlessly, allowing the reader to get to know and understand each of them. Jessamyn, wonderful from the start, is both good and reckless, making her imperfect and perfectly relatable and so naturally seventeen. Ethan is a unique character who is brilliant but flawed with problems that would normally keep him from this mission. Finally, ‘Saving Mars’ is filled with future ideas both unique and captivating. Ever hear the phrase youth is wasted on the young? Not in the Earth society Swanson has envisioned.
My Recommendation: I most highly recommend this for anyone who loves books from the Golden Age of Science Fiction or books like ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’. It is a chaste YA, perfect for anyone from 10 up. I loved this book so much I bought the next one right away. As a reader of The Healing Crystal: Book 2 – Fall of Eden said: “The only question I have is why can’t book three be in my hands right now?”
Sunday S. Smith