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Book Review

Book Cover

Martian Blood


Author: John Pahl
Publisher: Rowan Vale Books
301 pages
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 912655 62 5
Publication Date: 21 May 2020

When the Prometheus exploded on its landing pad it stranded the colonists on Mars. Fifteen years later a rescue mission is being arranged, but in that time the Earth has changed and not everyone wants the mission to succeed...

Martian Blood (301 pages) is the first book in a new science fiction trilogy, Noctilucents, by first time author, John Pahl. The book is aimed at the young adult market.

There is much to like about the book, not least its general premise. We follow the story through the eyes of a number of teenagers.

Tom lives on Mars, in fact, it is the only planet he has ever known, having been born there. Alone with a handful of adults, including his parents, Tom dreams of escaping the prison that the colony has become, he dreams of distant Earth. After his father is killed, bringing back equipment which will allow then to contact Earth, Tom is even more determined to escape.

Tom is probably the most rounded character in the book although that comes with a caveat. In these sort of adventures you have to accept that the young person has more skill, strength and determination than he would had the situation been real, and it seems to be that way in a lot of YA books.

Sophia Kasparov is the daughter of the man behind the AI in the original Prometheus and a man determined to send a rescue mission to Mars, the story does elude to his motives being greater than this, but he does not confide in Sophia, so we, the audience, are left to guess. She is portrayed as a stereotypical teenager, quick to act, but often slow to judge that outcomes of her actions. There are a couple more characters, but as yet their impact on the story is minor.

Arranged against our heroes is the eco nut job, Cita Stone, who was present when the Prometheus exploded. She was there to demonstrate against the launch and when the rocket exploded it killed her son Ben. Ever since, she has blamed Sophia’s father and has built a cult who seem to believe that Mars is full of devils and disease. I thought her characterisation to be a little over the top and occasionally she lurched too close to being a pantomime villain.

The world building is adequate, mostly confined to those areas where the protagonists found themselves, it would be nice to see this expanded in subsequent volumes. I’m not sure about the actual physics of the portions set on Mars there were occasions where I doubted that some of the things portrayed could actually happen as describe, but then the author is writing an adventure and not trying to recreate The Martian.

Likewise Tom adapted to Earth too easily, especially as he had grown up on a low gravity, the physiological effects of both weightlessness and his own thinner bones should have made it far more difficult to acclimatise to the Earth.

Overall, not a bad first attempt, it is relatively uncomplicated, I think I only took about five hours to read it, but for all its faults there is a central nub of something interesting going on.


Charles Packer

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