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Mars Awakens by H.M. Waugh

Title: Mars Awakens

Two shadows face each other on a red and green background. Title is Mars Awakens by H.M. Waugh.

Author: H.M. Waugh

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 3rd May 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: Kids from rival Martian colonies must come together to fight for survival in this thrilling middle-grade space adventure from an exciting Australian talent.

Raised in rival colonies on Mars, each long ago abandoned by Earth, Dee and Holt have been brought up to hate even the idea of each other. But when a mysterious object crash-lands on a far-flung plain, they are both sent to investigate and their fates intertwine. Together they must battle epic storms and deadly bioclouds while unpicking the web of lies they have been told about their planet. Will their bond be strong enough to withstand the arrival of a mysterious invader that threatens to end life on Mars forever?

Timely and compelling, Mars Awakens is the unputdownable first book in a duology offering a window into our future.


Mars has been colonised and abandoned by Earth – and there are two colonies who have been lied to – the Newtonians, and the Davincians. The Davincians are all female – with what they call the Futures, or Ys, kept safe in tunnels. They’re peaceful, living of the land and what they can access, and are under the illusion that help and support known as Phase 2 is coming from Earth still. And, as Dee will find out, they’re rivals with the Newtonians. Each group has been taught lies about the other – lies that when Dee meets Holt, and eventually, Chayse, that everything they’ve all been taught is a lie – and that they’ve been on their own. But as Dee, Holt, and Chayse make their way across Mars, they’re trying to unravel the lies they’ve been told in their respective colonies whilst trying to evade what they’ve now termed the Other – an invader on Mars that threatens both their colonies and their lives.

This book arrived as a surprise – I’m not usually a science fiction reader, but I decided to give this a go, and found it intriguing, once it picked up after Dee met Holt. At first, things felt disjointed but the reason why they were started to make sense – and as this is part of a duology, there are many questions lingering from this novel that will only be answered in the second book. The first book sets everything up cleverly, delivering exactly what the reader needs to know, and holding back enough to make us want to read the second book. As one of the rare science fiction books I’ve read, I was engrossed in it, so maybe for me with science fiction it’s not so much the genre, but the premise and story that matters, as it does with many genres for me. It’s the way the story is told and the characters that can really make or break a story for me. It could be an introduction to science fiction for me, so we shall see how I go with all my other reading as well!

I loved the way Dee and Holt were presented – at first, they both suspected each other, but the way they began to form a friendship and trust each other, despite the ingrained prejudices about each other, was done very well. It was reflective of our own world – where we all have our prejudices that can be changed and questioned when we get to know another person, and allow us to examine the issues surrounding prejudice and climate change, amongst others, depending on what each individual reader gets out of this book, in a safe way that can then be discussed in a class or friendship group environment for younger readers. It’s the kind of book that can start conversations about why we believe certain things or why we feel like we have to take what those in charge say at face value and not question it. Why we allow ourselves to be manipulated, all whilst showing how important it is to overcome surface differences to work together to make the world a better place.

A very interesting start to the duology.

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