Friday, May 3, 2024

Library Day at A Rover's Story by Jasmine Warga

by Jasmine Warga
Blazer & Bray
Middle Grade Science Fiction
320 pages
ages 8 to 12

A middle grade novel about the journey of a fictional Mars rover.

Meet Resilience, a Mars rover determined to live up to his name.

Res was built to explore Mars. He was not built to have human emotions. But as he learns new things from the NASA scientists who assemble him, he begins to develop human-like feelings. Maybe there's a problem with his programming....

Human emotions or not, launch day comes, and Res blasts off to Mars, accompanied by a friendly drone helicopter named Fly. But Res quickly discovers that Mars is a dangerous place filled with dust storms and giant cliffs. As he navigates Mars's difficult landscape, Res is tested in ways that go beyond space exploration.

As millions of people back on Earth follow his progress, will Res have the determination, courage—and resilience—to succeed... and survive?



With tons of heart, this is a quick-paced read, which teaches about space rovers, friendship, and determination.

Resilience (aka Res) knows he's being created for a mission to Mars. He also knows that as a rover and machine, he can only be logical...never human. But as he watches especially two humans build and get him ready for his mission, he begins to develop feelings. The space rover in the next room tells him that his thoughts aren't only impossible but also will ruin his ability to carry out his mission when it arrives. Right before launch, Res is given a drone, who seems to be a potential friend and support. But Res isn't really ready to leave Earth and those he's known behind. Little does he know that a huge adventure awaits him.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this one up and wondered if it'd take a direction like Wall-E, but it hit an original chord and leaves a lasting impression. This read doesn't jet off into the future but stays put in the modern day space exploration possibilities with just enough of a twist from the impossible to let dreams take flight. The book is broken down into several parts, which fits very well with Res' journey. The first section follows his development, another his trip to Mars, another his first period on Mars and so on. This allows for well-set reading breaks for those, who might not want to read this too quickly and offers a bit of pause outside of the normal chapter breakdown. I found this nice especially for the younger end of the age group or more reluctant readers. But then, although the read heads in with over 300 pages, it carries a easy-to-read font size and is, in many ways, lighter to read than some novels.

This sticks closely to modern technology and will delight fans of space exploration. It doesn't drop details exactly, but lets the scenes flow with information seamlessly added in as descriptions. Even the Mars section comes across with a sense of possible reality and does awaken respect for the space program. That doesn't mean the story is boring. Instead, Res is a rover with heart, a little unintentional humor, and a character to root for. He's a bit naive and, yet, so determined to learn and surpass expectations, that's it's hard not to like him. He's the kind of rover a reader would want as a friend.

There are dangerous and tense moments, and other times which pull at the heart-strings. The ending rounds everything off in the best ways, too. It's a very enjoyable read from beginning to end.

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