Friday, July 18, 2008

Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-441-01595-5

From the Publisher’s site:
Young Carmen Dula and her family are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—they’re going to Mars.Once on the Red Planet, however, Carmen realizes things are not so different from Earth. There are chores to do, lessons to learn, and oppressive authority figures to rebel against. And when she ventures out into the bleak Mars landscape alone one night, a simple accident leads her to the edge of death until she is saved by an angel—an angel with too many arms and legs, a head that looks like a potato gone bad, and a message for the newly arrived human inhabitants of Mars:We were here first.

My thoughts:
Carmen Dula isn’t so pleased about her family being chosen from the lottery for a trip to Mars. Six years is a long time away from Earth. With her last hours on Earth, Carmen finds herself sitting on a sandy beach when a man, older than her, appears and introduces himself as Paul Collins, their pilot to Mars.

For the first two weeks they’ll be stuck in the Space Elevator with a few dozen strangers. There’s only one stop before they reach the top where the spaceship waits to take them the remaining five and a half months journey to Mars. Six months is a long time to travel, and for Carmen, an interest in the captain will help pass the time.

It’s not long after arrival that the daily grind begins to wear thin and Carmen manages to make an enemy of Dargo Solingen, the general administrator on Mars. Looking for some time alone, Carmen suits up and heads outside on the planet’s surface for a walk. What follows is the introduction to other intelligent life on Mars and quick changes in Carmen’s life. Her world is turned upside down when she meets Red, the leader of the alien colony on Mars, and she finds herself settling into a new job as the liaison between Earth and the aliens.

Marsbound is set in a future where technology to travel to Mars has been utilized, and members of a research project have begun living there. Carmen is a typical teen starting out on an adventure that she’s been forced to endure, but by the end of the story she’s matured through extraordinary life experience. Mr. Haldeman pens an entertaining and often humorous futuristic tale where tension and conflict abound, the mysteries of an alien race begin to unfold, and romance finds a way to thrive. The protagonist, Carmen, is the most well-defined character throughout Marsbound, and most of the action, adventure and drama revolves around her. While the aliens are a large part of the story, they’re described in a fairly simplistic fashion that works well in leaving the reader open to focus on Carmen and her journey. The author has done a wonderful job in mixing in humor to keep things lighter, and as a whole it forms a very enjoyable read.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews


Enchanted by Books said...

This one sounds very different from your usual books. Is it Sci Fi? Sounds interesting. Great review as always. :)

Kimberly Swan said...

When I first picked it up I did wonder, because I tend to shy away from most heavy duty space reads (with a few exceptions of course), but this wasn't at all what I expected. It's more or less a coming of age story, in that the main character is a teen when she arrives on Mars and we see her mature. Of course it also has aliens, a lot of conflict, and romance. :)

Enchanted by Books said...

Oh ok cool. :)

Unknown said...

A good read but I felt the story was rather thin for a Haldeman. I guess as the heroine protagongonist in this case is a teenager, the point of view is always hers an written very simply.
The story did end rather abruptly but I guess the fact it left me wanting more means ther
at be a sequel in store.