Mars Awakens by H.M. Waugh

Mars Awakens
Author: H.M. Waugh
Published: May 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Middle-Grade/YA
Genre: Science-fiction, mystery
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $16.99

I received a copy of Mars Awakens from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Kids from rival Martian colonies must come together to fight for survival in this thrilling middle-grade space adventure from an exciting Australian talent.

Raised in rival colonies on Mars, each long ago abandoned by Earth, Dee and Holt have been brought up to hate even the idea of each other. But when a mysterious object crash-lands on a far-flung plain, they are both sent to investigate and their fates intertwine. Together they must battle epic storms and deadly bioclouds while unpicking the web of lies they have been told about their planet. Will their bond be strong enough to withstand the arrival of a mysterious invader that threatens to end life on Mars forever?

Timely and compelling, Mars Awakens is the unputdownable first book in a duology offering a window into our future.

Mars Awakens is the first book in a middle grade/younger YA sci-fi adventure duology. Dee and Holt have both been raised on the Martian surface in two different camps. Each camp has different beliefs and a different way of surviving on the red planet, and most importantly, they avoid one another. That is, until an object crash lands on the planet and Dee and Holt race to find out what it is, only to run into each other. They have to overcome their pre-conceived notions of each other and learn to work together to find the truth about the planet they’re living on.
This is a fascinating sci-fi story, and a great introduction to the genre to younger readers who may never have read a science-fiction book before. It’s adventurous, fast-paced, with a fun cast of characters that will invite readers in.
I loved that each ‘camp’ of humans who’ve settled into Mars have found different ways to adapt to living in the hostile environment of the planet. There’s a genuine mistrust of ‘Earth’ humans who haven’t set foot on the planet since the initial colonisation and there’s very much an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ feel – even if Holt and Dee (who are our main protagonists) don’t really understand what that means initially.
Mars is a popular topic, being our closest neighbour, so this book would be great for anyone who enjoys space science. If you’re using it in a classroom setting, it’s sure to spark conversations about Mars and what it might take to colonise the planet.
Most importantly though, this book has a great mystery running through it, that’s a little bit spooky, a little bit creepy, and very engaging.

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