Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: Mars Girls - by Mary Turzillo

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

This will teach me to stray too far from my preferred genre of horror.  I should have taken heed when I saw this listed on Amazon as "A YA Science Fiction Adventure Novel." Alarms should have gone off, something along the lines of "Danger, Will Robinson,"  complete with wildly waving robot arms.

But Mars Girls was being released by Apex Publishing, a company that has provided me with many great reads over the years and I do enjoy expanding my reading horizons from time to time and the book's synopsis read really well.

Synopsis: Like any normal 8-mear-old Mars girl, Nanoannie is looking for some excitement! She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a little. When Kapera— a friend from online school— shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the rover and take off. Finally an adventure! What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience of little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it. Life isn’t easy when you’re just as a couple of Mars Girls.

Sounds utterly fantastic, right?  That's what I thought.  It does take some getting used to the lingo, but that's not a big deal and it's easy enough for the reader to catch on.

Some Martian-born girls got so used to their home habs that they never wanted to leave. Scared to leave. Happy corp slaves. Not Nanoannie. She liked the open sky.

I really had to elevate my suspension of disbelief to get through Mars Girls, something I'm usually ale to do without a second thought.  After all, I enjoy reading horror and as a reader of such, I do that all the time, but some things in this story made little or no sense to me.

“I see you’re looking at my Face bindi. Would you like one someday?”

This was in reference to the little face on Crystal Spirit’s forehead.  Bindis are face jewelry, common in the Indian culture.  In this story, the face bindi is actually a small face on the face of a Facer, a cult that worships the face of Mars and plans to journey to the home planet of the builders.  It's a really far-fetched idea that adds little to the overall story and makes the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the face of Mars.

At some point in reading Mars Girls, I began to think the story and characters sounded very familiar. A bit of research shows this new novel is based on characters introduced in "Mars Is No Place for Children" which won the Nebula Award for best novelette in 2000.   A story which obviously had a lasting impression on me for it to resonate all these years later.

Despite the elements which did not work for me in Mars Girls, the story was not without its charms. Parenting is pretty much the same wherever you live...

Escudo’s voice came on. “Little lady, you are in big trouble. No more net dates for you. No fooling around with guys in virtual clubs . The only boyfriend you’ll have is your cat. You are grounded, and I mean underground. Confined to your room, you hear? Until the end of Summer-May. No entertainment except for on-line school!”

Although Mars Girls was not for me you mileage may vary particularly if YA Science Fiction Adventure is your thing.

Mars Girls, from Apex Publishing, is available for pre-order in both paperback and -e-book formats and is scheduled for release on June 13, 2017.

From the author's bio - After a career as a professor of English at Kent State University, Dr. Mary A. Turzillo is now a full-time writer. In 2000, her story “Mars Is No Place for Children ” won SFWA’s Nebula Award for best novelette. Her novel An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog in July-Nov 2004 . These two works have been selected as recreational reading on the International Space Station.

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