A few weeks ago, I followed the author, Jeff Faria, on Twitter after he followed me. It wasn’t long after that he sent me an instant message offering to send me a copy of his new book, Patriot of Mars, in exchange for a fair and honest review of his work. I replied to his message that I would be willing to do as he asked.
In the not too distant future, the Earth has all but run out of resources and has turned to our neighbor in the solar system, Mars to continue to provide what is needed for the continuation of life on our planet. In what is becoming an all too familiar trope, the corporations of Earth are in control of all aspects of mining the resources on the Red Planet and the workers there are little more than indentured servants. A small number of more wealthy earth citizens have also taken up residence on Mars to further add to the exploitation of resources and people there. While everyone seems to be happy with their situation, either running businesses or working for the corporations of Earth, a contingency would seem to be looking to gain independence when a freighter is attacked and its cargo is sent into space in a kind of Boston Tea Party-ish sort of move to claim Martian independence under the name of the Patriots of Mars. While I mentioned that this is an all too familiar trope, all is not what it seems as the story develops.
The story focuses on a young worker, Josh Reynolds who has no political aspirations, is not interested in Martian independence, nor wants any more than to do his job, take care of his mother, and hang out with his closest friends between shifts. Unfortunately for Josh, he becomes the object of scrutiny after he leads a group of his co workers out of a collapsed mine in a situation that no one should have been able to get out of. The police on Mars believe him to be one of, if not the leader of, a group of Patriots that caused the mining accident shortly after the routing of the freighter.
Back on Earth, the corporations convince the puppet government to dispatch troops to Mars to quell the uprising and their eventual arrival is going to make life for everyone on the Red Planet miserable, if not unbearable. Josh is thrust into the role of a leader that must find a way to turn the troop transport back before the unthinkable happens.
All the while, the plots weave in and out and everything comes to a head, but not in any way that might be called predictable, thus the trope is smashed and something new is coming to Mars.
I enjoyed this book for many reasons, one of which was the character development. As I read, I found that there were several characters that I was caring about and some that I was hoping would be successful. Along with that, there were other characters that, while interesting, were not very nice people at all; these were the people that were interested in exploiting any possible avenue to reap profit from any one else’s disadvantages. There was also one character in particular that intrigued me and that I want to learn more about; that character was named MOM. MOM is not a human, but rather a massive computer systems that regulates many aspects of life on both Mars and Earth. MOM’s role in the book is almost kept in the background for a good portion of the story, but makes her presence known in a big way in the final chapters of the book, thus setting up a next book.
One of the things that I was most impressed with was the detailed, yet not overstated world building the author incorporates in his work. The descriptions of the landscape and locations on Mars are plausible and palpable. That, along with the way that the characters at all levels interact with the environment and each other make this a fun and thought provoking story to read.
Patriots of Mars may be touted as a young adult sci-fi novel as it focuses a great deal on a small group of young adults, in my opinion, I think it would appeal to sci-fi fans of almost all ages. However, due to the intricate blending of several story elements, perhaps readers aged seventeen and older would probably get the most out of it.
Well, there it is…