Review: Arabella of Mars

Sunday, 25 December 2016
 Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Tor
Page Count: 320
Format: ARC
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi
Ever since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, they proved that space travel was both possible and profitable. 
Now, one century later, a plantation in the flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby. A tomboy who shares her father's deft hand with complex automatons. Being raised on the Martian frontier by her Martian nanny, Arabella is more a wild child than a proper young lady. Something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England. 
Arabella soon finds herself trying to navigate an alien world until a dramatic change in her family's circumstances forces her to defy all conventions in order to return to Mars in order to save both her brother and the plantation. To do this, Arabella must pass as a boy on the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company with a mysterious Indian captain who is intrigued by her knack with automatons. Arabella must weather the naval war between Britain and France, learning how to sail, and a mutinous crew if she hopes to save her brother from certain death.
*an ARC of this book was given to me during BEA 2016 from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review*

It was complete luck that originally made me pick up Arabella of Mars during BEA 2016 this past summer. I was walking to another book signing when I noticed that the line for Arabella of Mars was almost empty and I decided to go meet the author since it wouldn't take that long. If that line was longer perhaps I would have never picked up this book but I can say with complete certainty that out of all the books I picked up those three days, Arabella of Mars is one of my favorite ones and I count myself lucky that that stroke of luck allowed me to pick it up.

When it comes to covers I'm definitely judgmental (even thought everyone says not to judge books by their cover I can't help myself) and the cover of Arabella of Mars definitely passed my "criteria." The image of a traditional ship instead of a spaceship next to Mars in the distance mixed in with the interesting description of the book was what got me started reading after picking it up at BEA. If you've seen my other reviews you know that in terms of world building I expect the most from fantasy books and not as much from other genres. However, despite being sci-fi instead of fantasy, Arabella of Mars was really well written in that department. The settings used in Earth weren't anything new but being in another time period with various aspects of the world (like being an alternate time period different from ours) changed and the ship journey to Mars just made it so invigorating that I couldn't stop reading.

David Levine's writing is no slouch when it comes to characters either as the main character Arabella Ashby as well as the other characters like her shipmates, the Martians, and everyone else were all expertly written. My favorite part in the entire book was the chapters where we get to see Arabella working on the ship on the journey back to Mars. As she matures, grows up, makes friends, and ultimately becomes a much stronger character than she was when she first started. The captain of the ship she was on being Indian was also really interesting because that's the first time that I can remember an Indian character in any sci-fi book I've read. There was just so many small details in the writing that made me like Arabella of Mars so much, I know I've written nothing negative about it yet but that's because there are none (at least in my opinion); in fact I would go as far as to say that Arabella of Mars is one of my top five sci-fi books that I've read in 2016.

The ending of Arabella of Mars wasn't really a cliffhanger but it ends in such a way that I know the author has a lot of space to expand on later in sequels. I'm not sure if there is a sequel planned yet but I definitely hope so because this amazing book still has so much to explore and I haven't had nearly enough of Arabella's adventures. If you're a sci-fi or fantasy fan I would definitely recommend this book, you'll love it just as much as I did if not more.

5/5 - One of my favorite sci-fi books of 2016



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