Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 17th, 2017
Synopsis: Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly’s plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth–the one planet Polly has no desire to visit. Ever.
Homesick and cutoff from her desired future, Polly cannot seem to fit into the constraints on Earth, unlike Charles, who deftly maneuvers around people and sees through their behavior to their true motives. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right–there’s more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.
I absolutely loved Carrie Vaughn’s urban fantasy Kitty Norville series so I was excited when I heard she was trying her hand at a YA science fiction series. Martians Abroad has some issues, but it was still a fairly fun read. The first problem I ran into was with the characters. Polly is likable enough, but compared to Kitty she makes for a somewhat bland heroine. There’s just not anything that makes her stand out. Her enigmatic twin, Charles, is much more intriguing, but he doesn’t get all that much page time as most of the focus is on Polly. The secondary characters are straight out of central casting from your typical high school cliques. And finally, the boarding school, while set on a future Earth has nothing to distinguish it from what’s become a ubiquitous trope. Carrie Vaughn in some instances displays her talent for fantastic world building here. I really enjoyed the comparisons between Polly and Charles’s lives on Mars and the difficulties they encounter on Earth because of the differences in not only gravity but culture. There’s a lot of fascinating details such as: how the difference in gravity effects both the body and mind, and what life in space is like. Everything is included from the management of space colonies, to piloting a spaceship, to fashion choices. Thanks to this, I felt as though I were part of the story. The mystery behind who is orchestrating the dangerous circumstances Polly, Charles and their classmates is intriguing but is a bit spoiled by an anticlimactic ending. It’s also unclear whether this is standalone. I’m hoping it’s not because I think the story and its characters show promise. I know this sounds like I really didn’t care for Martians Abroad, but there were some enjoyable aspects to it and it was a quick read. It’s also receiving many 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads, so maybe I’m being overly fussy. I think this is one of those books you need to try for yourself, especially if you like YA science fiction or you’re a fan of Carrie Vaughn.