- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 970 (What's this?)
- Series: Mars Evacuees
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (February 17, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062293990
- ISBN-13: 978-0062293992
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,113,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mars Evacuees Hardcover – February 17, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Alice Dare's mother is a pilot, fighting the Morrors in space, and her father works on a submarine, laying mines. Just 15 years in the future, the world is slowly freezing-making it more comfortable for the invading Morrors, but worse for humankind. Sooner than expected, Alice is evacuated to Mars, and enrolled as a cadet in the Exo-Defense Force, under the watchful eyes of a variety of robots and in the blustery command of Colonel Dirk Cleaver, who is determined to whip the children into a fearsome fighting force. Mars has undergone intensive terraforming and now sports a somewhat breathable atmosphere and the beginnings of plant life, along with a low gravity bounciness that's hard to resist. With new friends Carl and Josephine, Alice participates in drills, has some fun, and steps into a leadership role when the adults on the base disappear. Determined to get help, Alice, Josephine, and Carl steal a Flying Fox and cross paths with a Morror their own age. These young friends help the adults see that the real threat is not from one another, and the story wraps up with hope that humans and Morrors can coexist. This book has plenty of action, with middle school humor and an occasional, but mild, swear thrown in during times of stress. Suggest to fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix's "The Missing" series (S. & S.) and Emma Clayton's The Roar (Scholastic, 2009).—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Malfunctioning robots! Space monsters!! Alien abduction!!! The setting may be the future, but there’s plenty of good old-fashioned storytelling and humor here. Sure to please armchair adventurers with their eyes on the stars. (ALA Booklist)
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‘Mars Evacuees’ opens up on Earth, an Earth in which an invisible, alien race called the Morrors has settled on.
They have settled on the Poles which are more suitable to their needs. Everything is fine to begin with but after a while, the Morrors want more than the Polar ice-caps and begin to reverse engineer global warming, potentially leading to a new Ice Age.
We are introduced to Alice Dare, our narrator, and daughter of all awesome Stephanie Dare, an all action super-hero pilot, scourge of the Morrors and rallying call for the Exo Defence Force (EDF).
Alice is being evacuated to Mars, for despite the best efforts of her mum and the EDF the war with the Morrors is not going at all well. Alice is packed off to an unfinished Martian colony, along with other children, who have been selected due to parental influence, aptitude and intelligent tests and via lottery.
This is an interesting take on how other countries would potentially look at an unfolding crisis and how the children of our future would be picked according to culture.
Alice is wonderfully deadpan and a descriptive narrator, whether discussing her school uniform in near arctic temperatures; ‘Horrifying sludge-green uniforms in which we were all slowly dying of hypothermia while the teachers could wear as many jumpers and coats as they liked’, Or when thinking on forgiveness; ‘I wasn’t sure if I had forgiven him over that Somnolum X stunt, but on the other hand I wasn’t sure I hadn’t’, Wonderful and true of all of us at one time or another.
Mars Evacuees is full of wit, action, humour, triumph, diversity and homework. It is superb and I cannot wait to get started on the sequel.
Oh, and as an aside, to the publisher who rejected Ms McDougall’s Mars Evacuees on the grounds of featuring too many girls in space, really?. You missed out on a fabulous book.
Reviewed by David at Whispering Stories Book Blog
At first it seemed like a good thing that the aliens had come. When you’ve got a planet nearly decimated by global warming, it doesn’t sound like such a bad deal when aliens start telling you they’ve got a way to cool down the planet. The trouble is, they didn’t STOP cooling it down. Turns out the Morrors are looking for a new home and if it doesn’t quite suit their needs they’ll adapt it until it does. Earth has fought back, of course, and so now we’re all trapped in a huge space battle of epic proportions. Alice Dare’s mother is the high flying hero Captain Dare, killer of aliens everywhere. But all Alice knows is that she’s being shipped off with a load of other kids to Mars. The idea is that they’ll be safe there and will be able to finish their education in space until they’re old enough to become soldiers. And everything seems to be going fine and dandy . . . until the adults all disappear. Now Alice and her friends are in the company of a cheery robot goldfish and must solve a couple mysteries along the way. Things like, where are the adults? What are those space locust-like creatures they’ve found on Mars? And most important of all, what happens when you encounter the enemy and it’s not at all like you thought it would be?
The first sentence of any book is a tricky proposition. You want to intrigue but not give too much away. Too brash and the book can’t live up to it. Too mild and people are snoring before you even get to the period. Here’s what McDougall writes: “When the polar ice advanced as far as Nottingham, my school was closed and I was evacuated to Mars.” I could not help but be reminded of the first line of M.T. Anderson’s “Feed” when I read that (“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck”). But it’s not just her first sentence that’s admirable. In a scant nine pages the entire premise of the book is laid out for us. Aliens came. People are fighting them. And now the kids are being evacuated to Mars. Badda bing, badda boom. What I didn’t realize when I was first reading the book, though, was that this chapter is very much indicative of the entire novel. There is a kind of series bloat going on in children’s middle grade novels these days. Books with wild premises and high stakes are naturally assumed to be the first in a series. There’s a bit of a whiff of “Ender’s Game” and "The White Mountains" about this book when you look at the plot alone, and so you assume that like so many similar titles it’ll either end on a cliffhanger, or it’ll solve the immediate problem, but save the bigger issue for later on. It was only as I got closer and closer to the end that I realized that McDougall was doing something I almost never encounter in science fiction books these days: She was tying up loose ends. It got to the point where I reached the end of the book and found myself in the rare position of realizing that this was, of all things, a standalone science fiction novel. Do they even make those anymore? I’m not saying you couldn’t write a sequel to this book if you didn’t want to. When McDougall becomes a household name you can bet there will be a push for more adventures of Alice, Carl, Josephine and Thsaaa. But it works all by itself with a neat little beginning, middle, and an end. How novel!
For all that, McDougall cuts through the treacle with her storytelling, I was very admiring of the fact that she never sacrifices character in the process of doing so. Carl, for example, should by all rights be two-dimensional. He’s the wacky kid who doesn’t play by the rules! The trickster with a heart of gold. But in this book McDougall also makes him a big brother. He’s got his bones to pick, just as Josephine (filling in the brainy Hermione-type role with aplomb) has personal issues with the aliens that go beyond the usual you-froze-my-planet grudge. Even the Goldfish, perky robot that he is, seems to have limits on his patience. He’s also American for some reason, a fact I shall choose not to read too much into, except maybe to say that if I were casting this as a film (which considering the success of “Home”, the adaptation of Adam Rex’s “The True Meaning of Smekday”, isn’t as farfetched as you might think) I’d like to hear him voiced by Patton Oswalt. But I digress.
When tallying up the total number of books written for kids between the ages of 9-12 that discuss the intricacies of alien sex, I admit that I stop pretty much at one. This one. And normally that wouldn’t fly in a book for kids but McDougall is so enormously careful and funny that you really couldn’t care less. Her aliens are fantastic, in part because, like humans, there’s a lot of variety amongst them. This is an author who cares about world building but also doesn’t luxuriate in it for long periods of time. She’s not trying to be the Tolkien of space here. She’s trying to tell a good story cleanly and succinctly.
The fact that it’s funny to boot is the real reason it stands out, though. And I don’t mean it’s “funny” in that it’s mildly droll and knows how to make a pun. I mean there are moments when I actually laughed out loud on a New York subway train. How could I not? This is a book that can actually get away with lines like “If you didn’t want me to build flamethrowers you shouldn’t have taught me the basic principles when I was six.” Or “It was a good time in Earth’s history to be a polar bear. Unless the rumors were true about the Morrors eating them.” Or “Luckily I don’t throw up very easily, but it made me feel as if I was being hit lightly but persistently all over with tablespoons.” That’s the kind of writing I enjoy. Silly and with purpose.
So it’s one part “Lord of the Flies” in space (please explain to me right now why no one has ever written a book called “Space Lord of the Flies”), one part “Smekday”, and a lot like those 1940s novels where the kids get evacuated during WWII and find a kind of hope and freedom they never would have encountered at home. It’s also the most fun you’ll encounter in a long time. That isn’t to say there isn’t the occasional dark or dreary patch. But once this book starts rolling it’s impossible not to enjoy the ride. For fans of the funny, fans of science fiction, and fans of books that are just darn good to the last drop.
For ages 9-12.
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