Published: August 3rd, 2012
Saving Mars (Saving Mars # 1)
By: Cidney Swanson
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?
So anyone who follows and reads these reviews knows that I generally have a pretty obvious style. Well, I'm breaking habit for this one because it is a very special review book minions. It's a review for Cidney Swanson's newest book, a sci-fi adventure that takes place in the future on a colonized MARS! Our heroine Jessamyn Jaarda wants to be a pilot more than anything, so she can fly the raiding missions to Terra and do important and adventurous things. At the start of the novel Jess is a rule-breaker, whose biggest concern is her alter-abled brother Ethan's mental comfort and getting a piece of ice for her Mom's second birthday gift (everyone has two birthdays a year due to Mars' different rotation cycle from Earth). But when she is suspended from the flight academy for disobeying a direct order and during a celebration the food supply is decimated, she fights to be allowed to go on the mission to get enough food to save the planet - especially when the government recruits her brother because of his technological genius. But when things go horribly wrong will Jess be able to find a way to rescue her brother and their other shipmates from a fate worse than death? And can she trust the help she receives from Pavel, the nephew of a corrupt Terran government official? Worst of all will Jess have to choose between saving Ethan or saving Mars and everyone they left behind?
When Cidney sent me an e-mail asking me to read and review this novel for its upcoming release, I was SUPER excited. Ever since I finished reading the Ripple trilogy I knew that Cidney was definitely and author to watch and that I would be reading any other books she had published. This is reminiscent of Rippler, with the strong female main character and the sci-fi premise, but that's where comparisons stop. Jessamyn Jaarda is a rash, young daredevil who has led a sheltered and happy existence on Mars. She thinks she understands the precarious position of Mars Colonial, but until the food supply disaster, it's obvious that she isn't quite aware of it as much as she thinks. I loved that Jess was a take-action sort of hero, ready to do whatever it took to save her home and her family. I understood her protective spirit toward Ethan - I think it's something that every sibling feels to a really great extent. Even if you don't get along with your brother(s)/sister(s), most of the people I know would take a bullet for them (I know I would). Ethan himself was portrayed as a very strong character as well, unlimited in his possibilities on Mars in a way that I hope will someday be a major reality on Earth. In our society he would most likely be diagnosed with autism or Asperger's, but on Mars he's recognized for his brilliant mind and technological capabilities (called only alter-abled).
The supporting characters like Jess' parents, Harpreet, Kipper, Lobster and Pavel all added something special to the overall story that is irreplaceable. I was impressed by the complexity of the plot and the ease that Cidney built her world with. It just gradually sprung up around the reader and by the ending I was immersed, unlike many books where the details are shoved in your face unceremoniously and without any flair. Earth's obsession as a culture with youth manifests itself in a chilling process called 'rebodying.' The process consists of the conciousness transfers of the old into the young, and vice versa at different points in the lifetime for maximum efficiency. The idea is that youth is wasted on the young. The scariest part is that I could actually see this happening if our society continues in it's current direction. The setting for me was paramount to enjoyment. It gave the book an extra level of tension to have it set on Mars instead of Earth, as a futuristic science fiction. This reversal allowed for the showcasing of an outside perspective and gave a more empathetic feeling to me as a reader. I loved the small details such as the colony's history, the planetary dog, the ingredients list for the ration bars, Jess eating butter and kale like they are regular foods at the banquet for the conciousness transfer teens. The difference between the offensive Terran term "Martian" and the term they use, Marsian was a nice touch.
Overall, this novel was a a very high action, suspense novel where eveything that could possibly go wrong does. The ending gave me serious chills and made me want to cry, yet cheer at the same time. I highly recommend it to fans of YA or of science-fiction in general. If you want a book that makes you laugh, grip your armrest, AND cry, this is the one for you.
VERDICT: 5/5 Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the author and no favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book is now available on Amazon.com in Kindle format and Paperback.*