cover image Last Day on Mars

Last Day on Mars

Kevin Emerson. Walden Pond, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-230671-5

In the year 2213, as humanity abandons the dying solar system ahead of the sun going supernova, several children are drawn into a death-defying, time-and-space-twisting adventure. Liam and Phoebe, both 13, are supposed to be on the last colony ship off of Mars, but their parents must finish vital terraforming experiments before they can leave, in order to ensure that humanity’s new home will be habitable. When the Scorpius is forced to depart without them, Liam and Phoebe must figure out a way to catch up to the ship before they’re left behind forever. In the process, they encounter alien forces that may have caused Earth’s destruction, forces that won’t be content until humans are extinct. This first installment of the Chronicle of the Dark Star trilogy is ambitious, exciting, and just a shade terrifying; Emerson (the Exile series) suffuses his story with a sense of melancholy and loss, even though his young protagonists never lived on Earth themselves. While much of the novel serves to set up the next books, it’s a satisfying, if unsettling, beginning. Ages 8–12. Agent: Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Feb.)