________________ CM . . . . Volume 21 Number 20 . . . . January 30, 2015


Mars Evacuees.

Sophia McDougall.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2015.
403 pp., trade pbk., $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-670-06775-6.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Kay Weisman.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


When the polar ice advanced as far as Nottingham, my school was closed and I was evacuated to Mars.

Miss Clatworthy called me into her office to tell me about it. I’d had in the back of my mind she might be going to say the aliens had finally shot down my mother’s spacefighter, so on the whole I took the actual news fairly well. And that’s even though I knew Mars wasn’t ready for normal people to live on yet. They’d been terraforming for years and years, but even after everything they’d squirted or sprayed or puffed at it and all the money they’d spent on toasting it gently like a gigantic scone, still you could only sort of breathe the air and sort of not get sunburned to death. So you can see that the fact that someone had decided I would be safer there than say, Surrey, was not a sign that the war with the aliens was going fantastically well.


In the not too distant future, Earth is inhabited by an additional life form—Morrors, cold-loving, invisible aliens who’ve promised to inhabit only the Polar Regions and reverse global warming. Unfortunately, since the Morrors are now at war with humans, 300 Earth children, including 12-year-old Alice Dare, are evacuated to Beagle Base on Mars for their protection and to be trained as fighters for the Emergency Defense Forces. When all the adults disappear from their base, Alice and her friends (accompanied by one of their teacher robots) set off to look for them and, in the process, encounter some predatory Vshomu (aliens who will devour the entire solar system if left unchecked) and Thsaaa, a young Morror who has been separated from the rest of his comrades.

     McDougall has created a complex, yet believable alternate reality. The aliens and their motivations will intrigue readers, and Alice and her friends are all well developed (if imperfect) characters. Alice narrates from a slightly snarky, 12-year-old perspective which adds a fair amount of humor to the otherwise action-driven narrative. And, though the linguistic choice to refer to the multi-tentacled Thsaaa as “they” feels clunky and the Lord-of-the-Flies-esque behavior of the kids at Beagle Base seems to come out of nowhere, this story should please fans of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” series. A sequel is in the works.


Kay Weisman, a librarian and reviewer, now writes “Information Matters” for School Library Monthly and works as a youth librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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