Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (4 out of 5)
I’m going to kick off Children’s Book Review week here on generationgbooks with a book that isn’t out yet- surprise! This little charming story is out February 17, 2015, and is published by Harper Collins. I have to say, of the children’s books and young adult titles that I have read this year and the advances handed off to me, the most fun ones have been Harper Collins titles. Anything that has to do with interplanetary hijinks, aliens, outer limits, space travel, astronomy, or the like, is right up my alley. This was a quirky, fun little book that I was reading while sitting in the ER with my sister and my father in September (my dad was very sick at that time and we had to bring him in. He has since recovered from that awful stomach virus). I was worried sick, but thankfully, there was this quirky little gem to distract me. And distract me it did.
Technically, it’s marked for the 8-12 year old set. That’s what they call “tween” these days (I’m sorry, I still hate the term), or grade level 3rd-7th. I think it’s more toward the 8-10 year age range; still a bit young for a 12 year old. I would not have read this as a 12- year old (that’s when I read Gone With The Wind in its entirety; I was way ahead!), but if you have a kid who’s encountering some reading doorstops on the road to reading more masterful books, then this may be a good read. Again, my opinion, and based on my limited grasp of the children’s book market. I would say if your young one enjoys outer worlds, this is a great, fun book to pick up and devour.
Planet Earth comes under attack by aliens, and feisty Alice Dare and a group of her friends are thrust into saving the planet, and are sent off to Mars! Alice was minding her own business at the Muckling Abbott School for Girls when the attack occurs. The first challenge is the adults disappearing into nowhere, and Alice and her pals are forced to stare down and attempt to take down an alien named Thsaaa, and figure out where the adults are disappearing to. These invisible aliens have been messing around with our planet, in the arctic, where they’re sending ice, snow, and inclement weather to the rest of the planet by terraforming in that region. The fact that the book teaches some more about our planet, the environment, and what global warming is doing to the core, is another positive. I don’t think we can get that message out enough. Throwing aliens into the mix? Pure genius! Anyway, Alice and her fellow alien busters are training for combat, and that sets everything up for all sorts of fun times. And although there is a message to this story, it doesn’t stop being fun.
As for our heroine, Alice is a great heroine. There is, as I said, fun with the story and with her friends who are helping her fight the Martians to save the planet from unforeseen doom, but there is a deeper side to this story. Alice isn’t just a normal teen, she’s seen and been through a lot in her young life, and her coping mechanisms aren’t like what you would normally find in a novel written for this age group. The fact that she’s a deep thinking, rational person who still has fun and a sense of humor and what’s wrong and right, is not easily found. I don’t think I’ve read a children/teen story this year where I have encountered that in a young female lead. There was a review on Goodreads where they liken Alice to Artemis Fowl. I can COMPLETELY see that. (Note that I am a huge Artemis Fowl fan), and perhaps that’s another reason I enjoyed this book so much. I highly recommend it.