Thursday, 28 March 2013

Blue Hearts of Mars by Nicole Grotepas: Review

I saw this book yesterday on a few blog I follow, fell in love with the cover and immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle. I then jumped it to the head of my reading queue. I'm so glad I did. I love sci-fi and this didn't disappoint.

Retta lives on Mars, which has been inhabited by humans for two hundred and fifty years. The first colonies were build by Androids. But instead of the machines being dismantled after the building was done, they became more complex, replicating humans in almost every way. They now look so similar that it's almost impossible to tell them apart. Androids think, feel, have souls, procreate and love - just like humans do. But, like all draconian societies driven by prejudice, it's forbidden by law for humans and Androids to marry, even though they live side-by-side in their domed cities. Even being friends is frowned upon.

Of course, something as silly as that does not stop Retta and Hemingway - a super hot, sexy Android - from falling in love. Their relationship catapults them into a rebellion against the government. What follows is an action-packed, fast-paced adventure with a sweet love story.

Nicole Grotepas is not scared to explore some interesting concepts about intelligence, the soul, and humanity. A lot of her views resonate with me. But don't think this is a heavy philosophical book. It's not. It's a quick, fun read with a well-devised plot, interesting characters and amazing world-building.

The book is narrated by Retta and I enjoyed being in her head. She's a fiery eighteen-year-old who can't be kept down by hate or prejudice - even when it comes from her own family. I especially liked Hemingway. He reveals himself to be tough and forthright, but also gentle and protective when it comes to the human girl he loves.

Initially the love between Retta and Hemingway seemed a bit insta, and there's the usual amount of teenage angst one finds in many young adult reads. Happily, their love developed into something credible that I believe will last. One of the things I really liked was the involvement of both Hemingway's and Retta's families. That's very refreshing for a young adult read where absentee parents are usually the norm.

Although I enjoyed the book, there were a few things that bugged me enough to knock off half a star. It's two hundred and fifty years since these people arrived here, but Retta still refers to celebrities, fashion icons and culture from twenty-first-century Earth! It kept ripping me out of Nicole Grotepas's very credible Mars world-building. Surely, after all this time, they'd have there own culture?

In one part of the book they're being chased by very determined government officials. Their images are being flashed to every citizen on Mars. This added greatly to the tension. But as soon as it no longer suited the plot, all their pursuers vanished and no one recognized them. Hmm. That doesn't work for me. But these two things are definitely minor niggles that shouldn't stop you reading this fun book.

All in all I give it three and a half shining Mars moons.


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