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“What happens when your dream mission to Mars is a reality television nightmare? This debut science-fiction romp with heart follows the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with a dash of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a hint of The Real World.

For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars—in exchange for a lifetime of research—was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth.

But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.

Irreverent, poignant, and perfectly weird, David Ebenbach’s debut science-fiction outing, like a mission to Mars, is an incredible trip you will never forget.”

I got an ARC of this book.

This is a weird book. I enjoy weird books. Sometimes weird books become incredible series, sometimes they are completely off base in a wild way. This toes the line between the two. I will remember parts of it for a while, some parts were just misses for me.

The biggest miss is the changing of the POV without warning. Every chapter could be someone else’s POV. It would take me pages to figure out who was talking and by then I was annoyed. If you are going to change characters, the voices have to be distinct. This is my biggest pet peeve in books. It is even better when the chapters are labeled with the person’s name so you are reading it from the right place from the very first words instead of trying to figure it out for pages.

The chapters that were the manual were amusing. They felt a lot like the company policies and words from The Outer Worlds. They were completely out of touch with people and felt very off. Very fake happy. These chapters gave me huge insights into the project. It felt like the company that sent them was a real entity from the very first entry. Then the threat of not sending any more food smacked of Spacers Choice. It was a wonderful detail.

The little bits and pieces of the lives were fascinating. The big idea of one of them being pregnant (it is announced in chapter one or two, not a huge spoiler). Wow. That immediately made this stand out as not a normal space adventure book. It quickly became about the people and about what it would really feel like to give up everything. What makes a new world? What makes a safe place for a baby? What is society? Huge moral and philosophical questions came hurtling down immediately. It was fantastic.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was not as much nonsense or as much hardcore sci-fi as I was expecting, but I think that in the end made it more enjoyable. It is a weird book though. Weird in a way that makes it both stand out and fall down. It was a great experiment. I am curious to see what Ebenbach will do next.

3.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.