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Friday, December 21, 2018

[Mrs. Y Reviews] We Are Mars by Cheryl Lawson

Book Cover via Amazon.com
Suspense is a subtle thing, something I happen to enjoy quite a bit. I love when the layers of the story come slowly and build, and in cooking terms it's when there are layers of flavor on the pallet. For the brain, layers of suspense are exciting, and it brings a more enticing outcome to any story that uses the approach. Add Mars, and some political intrigue and you have an interesting take. Want to know more? Get your land rover, make sure you took your vaccine because I'm about to review "We are Mars" by Cheryl Lawson.

Cheryl contacted me via Twitter initially and asked me to read her book. I picked it up and I purchased it for $.99, which is such a deal. As of writing this review, it's still that price, so if you are interested in a book deal regardless of how it is, this might be something to pick up.

With that said, this is, as always, an honest review and Cheryl asked me to do that. Let me start by saying, the cover is interesting. It fits the plot, but it also leaves a lot to the imagination.

Don't try filling your imagination though until you start reading it. We have a story of subtle and detailed placed suspense that mixes with reality and life on the unbelievable surface of Mars. As someone who loved Kubrick’s 2001, this book makes that film look like a YouTube video in the suspense. Oh yes, I went there, it's that good. The layers of how it's put in are what makes this book so good. It's slow, steady and builds to a fire.

Tiny bits of exposition come together to a beautiful bouquet and it pays off at the end. I haven't read a story this well layered in a while. This takes time, it's not impatient at all, and I think some may call what this is slow in the pacing department, but that's just what makes it so perfect. Slow pacing, when it's detailed like this, is fine because the tension takes the balance and it cranks it to eleven.

There are real people in this book, with real stakes for the things they believe in. The antagonists, both secondary and primary are believable as well. The protagonists both secondary and primary are contrasting and lively.

There are just tiny critiques I have. This first one is more of what I feel when George RR Martin does a Red Wedding and it's "Why Cheryl! WHY!? Why did you kill that nice lady? WHY?? She just was starting to live! She wanted a real life with her man!" Is that really a true and professional critique? I have no idea, I'm an amateur book reviewer, but there are some moments you will get caught up in this book and have your heartbreak.

So if you are someone who does not like heartbreaking stuff, read with caution. Cheryl, for all the current nomenclature terms, is going to get you in the feels.

Finally comes my last nitpick, and it’s regarding structure. I know recently I’ve been writing about stories and having completion. There is a lot of series anymore, and the idea behind a series is to engage the reader into the story so that they come back for the next books. The issue is that the first story is the litmus test on whether the audience would be interested in the next book or not. Thinking in terms of film, there is the trend to build franchises and series which began with the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU for short.  The MCU started with Iron Man and it was a one-shot film that leads to other films. The only reason we knew there would be any other films, was the end credit scene. The entire story of Iron Man was encapsulated in its own film and didn’t need that end credit scene to make the film better, and yet that scene did make the film better.

I bring that all up because I feel, in a book sense, Cheryl did this. That said, the little bit at the end, which could have been saved for the beginning of the next book, by the technical and literal rules of completionism, incomplete. And yet, prior to this portion, I’m speaking about, “We are Mars” as a story is a complete story, a full beginning, middle and ending with the main protagonist and the conclusion of the main antagonist’s section. Once we get to the next part, it becomes like a teaser to the next book and the rest of the series.

That said, I don’t think this story would be nearly as good without that little bit. I love end credit scenes in films, and I love the last portion of the book here. So I’m going to give this portion of my critique a neutral score. It adds to the plot moving, and it adds to the richness of the story, but it isn’t needed to tell the full story that came before it.

That probably is the most prevalent critique I have. Let's talk about some big positives aside from pacing, tension, suspense, story structure and all the stuff I mentioned before. This story is well written, it's comfortable even when it's twisting your heart out of your chest. The terror in this book is real. The anger that happens is so true, and harsh. The heartbreak is also horrible, and anything terrible happening is utterly terrible. There is a part with a bride, which invoked an emotion of anger from me and heartbreak. It was painful to read this character's troubles. I truly enjoyed how well this was written.

Lastly, I love the pace of the story overall. I enjoyed the readability of it, nothing was too technical or dry, and it could have been. Sometimes with space stories, there is a lot of technical babble that comes with it and makes me have to Google. That didn’t happen here. It was lovely and fun and anyone can read it. In fact, aside from like a few salty words, this book would be great to read to a third grader on up. I really think I’ll be reading this with my daughter, I think this is the kind of story that she can get swept up in. In and of itself, that’s a big compliment, if anyone can love a story regardless of age, then, in my opinion, it’s a good story.


After doing the math here, I’m giving this suspense-filled sci-fi number a beloved 93/100 which is a 5-star review on Goodreads and Amazon. Yes, that little bit at the end could be an issue, and you may find it so, but I am going to count it as an enhancement and it didn’t impact the score as much.

I want to thank Cheryl for mentioning this book to me! It’s so great. Have a lovely rest of your day and thank you for reading my review.