Lion of Mars – book review

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The Lion of Mars
Science Fiction
Survival
Tween
* * * * * Stars (Amazing!)

Bell lives in a small compound on Mars along with a group of other Americans – scientists, researchers, etc. – who all contribute to their community to keep things running, growing, working. He and some of the older kids are curious about the other settlements on Mars (France, Germany, etc.), but their interest is firmly rebuffed by their Commander who insists that they isolate themselves. There are a couple of reasons for this – 1.) American relations with other countries back on Earth are not good, and 2.) something bad happened to one of the American settlers during a joint expedition years ago, after which the Americans cut themselves off from everyone. The kids are all being trained to assist with/take over the adults’ responsibilities, and their knowledge and skills are severely tested when all of the American adults become sick at the same time due to some mysterious illness. Medicine from Earth is too far away and will take too long to reach them, so Bell and Trey use the underground train tunnels to visit the nearest settlement to get help. That’s when they learn just what they’ve been missing out on all this time – new friends and mentors, new food and cultural experiences, parties! After a few weeks, the adults are all expected to make a full recovery and the kids are relieved, but what happens now? Do they have to go back to the way things were before? This is a fantastic inquiry into what it might take to successfully colonize Mars and the sorts of problems and issues settlers might face – scientific, political, and otherwise. This is a kid-friendly science fiction/survival story that has a lot of heart and will charm younger readers much as “The Martian,” by Andy Weir did for adults.

Reviewed by YA Librarian