cover image MARTians


Blythe Woolston. Candlewick, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7756-5

Woolston (Black Helicopters) nods to Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles as she envisions a bleak, near-future suburban wasteland of empty housing developments and thriving big box stores. After an unexpected early graduation when her high school is permanently closed “in the interest of efficiency,” Zoë Zindleman receives a job referral for AllMART. That same day her “AnnaMom” announces that she’s moving away and leaving Zoë behind. Eventually Zoë goes to live with other homeless kids at the Warren, an abandoned strip mall across from the AllMART. Snapshots of Zoë’s life as a trainee provide glimpses of a pervasive corporatocracy, and a populace all but deadened to reality. Zoë’s flattened narration reflects the disjointed, disconnected nature of her existence, and while Woolston keeps the focus on Zoë, offhandedly mentioned details about her world (“I’m not an Otakusexual—although I respect toonophilia as a sexually responsible choice”) and chilling corporatespeak (“Your smile is AllMART’s welcome mat”) will set imaginations spinning. It’s a terrifying extrapolation of the here-and-now and, like much of Woolston’s fiction, far too close for comfort. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Oct.)