Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Carrie Vaughn takes a detour after Kitty Norville and gives readers an interesting take on sci-fi with her new novel Martians Abroad.
Polly Newton thinks she has it all figured out. Born and raised on Mars, Polly’s plans include becoming a pilot someday. No other options exist. That is, until Polly’s mother throws a wrench in said plans and decides that Polly and her twin brother Charles will benefit from going to school at the prestigious Galileo Academy on Earth. Despite that going to this school will invariably help Polly get into a piloting program, she’s not one for being blindsided, and that’s exactly what happened when her mother informed her they were going.
She doesn’t find the reception on Earth any better, when she’s faced with prejudices and competition. But when a series of mysterious accidents continue to befall her class, they’ll have to work together to figure out what’s going on.
Right away the idea of a Martian coming to Earth was unique for me. As far as I can recall, the sci-fi I’m used to reading typically involves Earthlings traveling elsewhere, or other species just traveling space in general. What this did was create a really interesting perspective on Polly’s part. She’s seeing things (such as trees and rain) that are so common to us, but completely new and awe-inspiring to her. Carrie Vaughn did a great job of taking descriptions that could have crossed over into boring or mundane (just because we’re all familiar with them) and turns them into beautiful observations and descriptions. One of my favorite moments was when Polly and her class take a field trip to the Manhattan Cultural Reserve (aka future New York) and she sees a horse for the first time.
The outlook of the future was quite interesting as well. Martians Abroad is set in an indeterminate future time, but it’s not so futuristic that it felt beyond grasp or comprehension. Mars, at this point, had only been inhabited for one hundred years. Not too long in the grand scheme of things, and those inhabitants were former Earth humans, now considered Martians. But you begin to see how disconnected we are in the way that Polly reacts to having to go to Earth–a place where her ancestors hail from.
Probably my biggest complaint was, unfortunately, Polly. She’s so dead-set against trying to make the most out of her situation that she doesn’t figure out what is going on around the school until pretty much the very end when, in fact, the clues are there the whole time. I would have liked the mystery to be a little more involved, but I understand that coupled with the newfound awe of Earth for Polly that may have been too much.
I found Martians Abroad to be a quick read, which makes me want to know, after all is said and done, what will come next for Polly, and even her brother Charles who had his own interesting quirkiness about him. I’m hoping Carrie Vaughn will decide to tell us someday.
Sexual content: none