Themes of forbidden love, fighting injustice and inequality, discovering government cover-ups and coming of age love are always appealing to me, but melding them with a young adult Sci-Fi set in an earth colony on Mars involving humans and androids makes this story something that I was unable to pass up.
The story opens when a human girl, Retta, working in a mall coffee shop meets her first android, Hemingway. She is enchanted by him from the start. He’s gorgeous and he’s personable. His warmth, intelligence, humor and kindness make him more appealing than any of the human boys she knows. Hemingway seems to like her a lot too and is surprised at her ready acceptance of him when she knows he’s an android. On the Mars of 150 years into the future, androids were at best second rate citizens and generally looked upon with disgust which is why many blended in with the humans since they looked human keeping what they are a secret as much as possible.
Almost immediately, the two decide to defy the social norms and the law to try dating. Opposition comes from Retta’s father who is fearful for what will come of this decision, but Retta is blissfully defiant. It only lasts a week before Hemingway himself breaks it off with her because he fears for Retta. Retta doesn’t accept the explanation, but goes her separate way. Meanwhile, she distracts herself from the pain of the break-up by researching the androids to learn as much as possible. She and her best bud even break into the company that makes the androids and uncover several secrets with the biggie being the government’s decision to send the androids ahead to set up another planet for colonization. Another biggie is the proof that the androids aren’t much different than humans in their make-up. Soon events start moving along fast with the government not sitting still while Retta tries to give voice to her new-found knowledge.
Generally, I am not one to refer to my rating decision in the body of my review, but I feel some explanation is necessary here. I rated this one based on what I’ll call ‘potential’ for lack of a better word. There were many things that would have made me rate this book lower and I will elaborate so others can form their own opinion whether my issues are non-issues for them. However, I couldn’t give it too low a rating because the creative world-building and bones of the plot were so wonderful. Its the fleshy details that bothered me.
Now what do I mean by all that. The idea of setting the story on Mars in the future, the tension between humans and androids, and the cover-up stuff about the androids was fabulous. The basic plotline of human girl and android boy falling in love, parting for their protection, sneaking around to make discoveries and then to do what they can for the android race to be accepted was again, abso-fab.
I wasn’t a fan the heroine. Retta acted ten, but thought she was thirty. The story is told from Retta’s perspective in first person so there was no getting a break from her voice and thoughts. To be fair, there was some improvement by the end.
The story contained a couple of my pet peeves too. I disconnect when a seventeen year old girl has two brief conversations with a boy and determines she’s in love and can never be parted from him. I also disconnect when I am confronted with a petulant, angry child who somehow gets to treat her parent like he’s an idiot and ignorant with their roles reversed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware that adults can be blinded by emotion or act/respond out of ignorance on occasion, but I am not keen to see a parent put down just to promote the kid because they’re the protagonist. In this case, even though Retta’s dad was wrong, he still looked better than she did- well at times they both just looked bad.
I also had trouble from the very start with staying in the story. The very beginning leaps into the middle of a conversation between the main characters making me feel like I had missed something before that would have led me to this point. There were moments that should have garnered deep emotions or immediate action, but didn’t and other moments that I had no idea what got the character so worked up. The story flitted from scene to scene without much transitioning so it was like I was being jerked away before I was quite done and plopped down into something new.
Now those are just my issues and someone else might not even care or notice. Tastes differing and all that so…
When all’s said and done, do I recommend this one? Yes! It is safe in the hands of even the youngest teen and it does provide a creative storyline and diverting plot. Hemingway is a doll, his mother an eccentric genius and Retta’s best friend Mei was just over the top. The story sends a great message to make us all think about respect for differences in others and acceptance of said differences. Fans of YA Sci-Fi Romance might want to give this a try.