Title: Mars Evacuees
Author: Sophia McDougall
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Opens: When the polar ice advanced as far as Nottingham, my school was closed and I was evacuated to Mars
My Thoughts: Earth has been invaded by invisible aliens called Morror. They like things cold so settle in the polar icecaps – trouble is they are extending the ice caps and the liveable area for humans is getting less, so now war has broken out between the two groups. Scientists are in the process of terraforming Mars but it is not quite ready for permanent human habitation. Still it is decided that 300 children aged between 8 and 16 should be sent to Mars anyway – doesn’t matter that there is not enough oxygen or that the sun can burn you to a crisp. Twelve-year-old Alice Dare is one of the 300 – her mother is a war hero flying ace battling the enemy and her father is also on the frontline.
The sending of the children to Mars is very reminiscing of the evacuations of children from London to the country during WWII. Only instead of being billeted out to people’s homes when they arrive on Mars the kids come under the care of a handful of Scientists, military personnel and some teacher robots such as a giant Teddy Bear who makes 7-year-olds cry and an annoyingly cheerful mechanical Goldfish that will shoot you with lasers if you don’t do your homework. The idea is that the children will be trained in warfare and when they come of age they will be sent back to earth to join the war effort. On the flight to Mars Alice befriended the odd Josephine, more by accident than design, Josephine has victim written all over her when it comes to being picked on by the other kids. They also strike up a sort of friendship with Carl and his younger brother Neil. The alliance comes in useful when the adults suddenly all disappear and the older kids take over the base, the situation quickly disintegrate into a Lord of the Flies type scenario. Finding themselves kicked off the base Alice, Josephine, Carl and Neil steal a spaceship and take off, along with the Goldfish robot which constantly wants them to do their homework, to try to get to the nearest base to find help. This is when the adventure really starts!
MARS EVACUEES is a very clever, action-filled, space adventure that had me on the edge of my seat more than once. LOVED Goldfish. The kids were all very believable – taking into consideration that they were braniacs and brave so not likely to end up in whimpering piles. They did adult things as a child would, and were still innocent enough to be more accepting of the weird and wonderful than adults – and I really liked that the distinction was made rather than falling into the trap making the kids do things that wouldn’t have come naturally. There are a few sub-plots going on – and lots of humour, including ‘gallows humour’ as the kids will face dire consequences if things go belly up. A fun yet meaningful space opera for middle school with enough hidden messages to keep an English teacher happy.
For more about the author – Click Here
A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.