Have you ever wondered what life on Mars might be like? Given the way we are destroying the earth, we just might have to start figuring out how to colonize the planet. Jennifer L. Holm proposes an interesting look at living within a Mars colony in her new book The Lion of Mars (Jan. 5, 2021 Random House).
The Lion of Mars was a very unusual story. The concept is that 11 year old Bell is one of many who lives on Mars (the year is 2091). He and a group of adults and children live in a below-ground home sponsored by the USA. Due to the rotation of the earth and Mars, they only get supplies and other needs once every 2 years and for all intents and purposes are completely cut off from anyone outside of their colony. They function like a large family and the Commander is the only one who communicates with people from earth.
The earth colony is not the only colony of Mars, but for all intents and purposes, these kids are living in isolation from the world. There are other countries with their own colonies as well, but the children are told that the other colonies are dangerous and that they cannot communicate with them whatsoever. Part of this is due to an event that happened years earlier and the other part has to do with wars and issues that are happening between the countries on earth. When a deadly virus hits the adults in the colony, however, they have to go for help.
Reading a book about a kid in isolation during our own isolation is rather odd. Holms did write this well before, but it still has an eerie feel to it. It took a bit of time to set up the story and introduce the characters, but I think most kids could completely empathize with Bell and his frustrations with being the youngest, having no friends outside of the other 5 kids in the colony, and having no hope of anything changing. When the illness hits the adults, Bell and the other kids realize that they have to either brave approaching another colony or die themselves.
Holm has provided a book that will be enjoyed by a wide audience. There is the adventure of a colony on Mars mixed with issues of friendship and trust. Another great one from Holms.
* I received an eARC of The Lion of Mars from Random House Children’s Books and NetGalley in exchange for a review.