Book Review: Finding Life on Mars by Jason Dias

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Title: Finding Life on Mars
Author: Jason Dias
Narrators: Jennifer Jill Araya
Publication Date: February 11, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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Finding Life on Mars
A Novel of Isolation
Jason Dias
Narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya
Jason Dias, February 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When the last man on Earth reveals he has a nuclear weapon pointed at the tiny Martian colony, the colonists can only survive by working together. Jaye, a Trueborn Child of Mars, isn’t like her father, Merlin. Like all the Trueborn, she is cursed with perfect memory and deep sensitivity. But not even the knowledge that Merlin killed her mother can change the fact: They need each other for more than survival.

Generally speaking, post-apocalyptic tales are dark and tense and any sense of attachment comes from the people trying to survive against all odds. That’s certainly true of Finding Life on Mars but the friction between the original colonists from Earth and the generation that was born on Mars brings a whole new level of anxiety.

Earth has essentially died and, while that was expected, the colonists didn’t realize just how bad things were and that they would be the only ones to survive. They’ve made a life for themselves on Mars and have raised families but the Landers will die out before much longer. The Trueborns, those born on Mars, are of a different sort all together with  somewhat rigid personalities and little empathy. Will these two groups be able to come together in the common cause of stopping a madman bent on destroying everything or will this be their last chance to understand and love each other in spite of their differences?

Narrator Jennifer Jill Araya is new to me but I was impressed with her ability to make Jaye more personable than she really is and it was her performance that kept me engaged with the story, despite her having to maintain a nearly robotic monotone. While I enjoyed the tale, I think I would have had more difficulty connecting with Jaye if I had read this visually. Still, Mr. Dias has left me thinking about the importance of the human personality and the need for emotional connections.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

About the Author

Jason Dias is a neurodivergent existential psychologist and author. He lives, loves and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado and keeps largely to himself.

Website

Twitter

Amazon

 

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About the Narrator

Jennifer Jill Araya has been listening to audiobooks since she was a young child, and the fact that she now gets to narrate audiobooks for a living is a dream come true. Jennifer’s training as an opera singer and orchestral cellist lend a musicality and depth of understanding to her narration that help bring her authors’ stories to life. She loves nothing more than giving life and breath to the printed word.

When she’s not narrating, Jennifer can be found hiking, biking, running, or generally exploring her home city of Cincinnati with her husband Arturo (aka “Partner in Crime”) and their two children.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Reviews: Denver Moon by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola

Denver Moon
Metamorphosis
Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishers, April 2018
ISBN 978-0-9997736-9-7
Ebook

From the publisher—

Denver Moon is Mars’ top private eye. She works the tunnels of Mars City, a struggling colony ravaged by the mysterious red fever. Her latest client, Jard Calder, is demanding results. Someone is dismembering the pimp’s prostitutes and salvaging their body parts. But since the victims are robots instead of humans, is it really murder?

As a matter of fact, this is actually a serious felony on Mars and Denver finds herself literally staring at body parts although these parts are plastic and plasma-gel rather than flesh and blood. This is not the first victim she’s seen with these nasty damages but, even in the rotten underbelly of Mars, a prostitute deserves better treatment. Are these attacks directed at the bots themselves or at the man who runs this prostitution enterprise, Jard Calder?

This is a private eye with a few interesting characteristics. First, she’s colorblind and that serves her very well on this planet with a madness-inducing disease called Red Fever that has something to do with all the red on Mars. Also, she carries an artificial intelligence named Smith on her belt and he doesn’t hesitate to call her out when he sees fit.

Murder or not, Denver has a job to do and she’s going to have to go into the Red Tunnel. There, she runs into Rafe Ranchard, a man with a grudge, and a most unlikely pair of lovers. This is not going to end well but I really enjoyed this short story introduction to a very unusual detective.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2018.

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Denver Moon
The Minds of Mars
Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishers, June 2018
ISBN 978-0-9997736-6-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Earth is dying. Luna is uninhabitable. Mars is our last chance.

Once considered humanity’s future home, Mars hasn’t worked out like anybody hoped. Plagued by crime and a terraforming project that’s centuries from completion, Mars is a red hell.

Denver Moon, P.I., works the dark underbelly of Mars City. While investigating a series of violent crimes linked to red fever–a Martian disorder that turns its victims into bloodthirsty killers–Denver discovers a cryptic message left by Tatsuo Moon, Mars City co-founder and Denver’s grandfather. The same grandfather who died two decades ago.

Twenty-year-old revelations force Denver on a quest for truth, but Tatsuo’s former friend, Cole Hennessy, leader of the Church of Mars, has other plans and will stop at nothing to keep Denver from disclosing Tatsuo’s secrets to the world.

Hell-bent on reclaiming her grandfather’s legacy, Denver–along with her AI implant, Smith, companion android, Nigel, and shuttle pilot, Navya–set out on a quest to find the answers they hope will shed light on the church’s true agenda, the origin of red fever, and the mysteries surrounding Tatsuo’s tragic death.

Red Fever is a terrible disease that causes its victims to become murderous madmen but Denver is the ideal detective to investigate the fever because it attacks through color and she is colorblind. In the course of her work, she begins to get hints that her long-dead grandfather Tatsuo (whose personality is built into Denver’s AI, Smith) may not be dead after all. That, of course, sets her off on a new path, one that propels her into the heart of danger, including a church that’s as malevolent as they come. Denver and Smith—who, brilliantly, is actually a Smith & Wesson—delve futher and further in search of the truth that is full of surprises, both good and bad.

Worldbuilding is a bit lacking in that we know Earth is becoming uninhabitable but not why. That’s a pretty significant omission because humans have elected to move to a planet that is not exactly user-friendly and I’d like to understand why and how Mars is the better choice. On the other hand, I think having Denver be colorblind is a masterly decision and gives her so much more flexibility than other investigators and the relationship between her and Smith is really appealing and frequently funny. All in all, Denver’s story is a nice blend of science fiction and mystery with a good deal of adventure thrown in.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2018.