cover image A Rover’s Story

A Rover’s Story

Jasmine Warga, illus by Matt Rockefeller. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-311392-3

Rendered with philosophical internality, this touching, fact-filled novel by Warga (The Shape of Thunder) centers the maturation of gutsy Mars rover Resilience, “built to be an unbiased observer,” alongside that of Sophie, child to one of Res’s NASA scientist creators. The narration alternates between Res’s account of gearing up for and executing a high-stakes Mars mission, and letters written to him by Sophie as she ages from sixth grader to adult. In the lab, Res’s fascination with humans results in the robot internalizing non-programmed concepts, including preferences, desire, gladness, jealousy, and trust. Paired with a drone, Fly, on the journey to Mars, Res encounters imperious satellite Guardian, treacherous dust storms, and the worrisome thought of never returning to Earth. Sophie’s letters reveal her envy of how Res’s project monopolizes her mother, but also her eventual realization of Res’s importance and the connection she feels to him. Res’s initially musing narration accelerates on Mars’s unfamiliar terrain, punctuated by funny banter as Res lives up to his name while showing that feelings are as valuable as logic. Occasional b&w artwork by Rockefeller (Poesy the Monster Slayer) emphasizes the robots’ mission; Sophie’s family speaks Arabic and has light brown skin. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Brenda Bowen, Book Group. (Oct.) [/em]