A Remarkable Book
5 out of 5 stars
Rob Dircks’ You’re Going to Mars is a remarkable book voiced by a talented narrator. The protagonist, Paper (aka Pepper, aka Robin) is intelligent, empathetic, loyal, resolute, and completely intent on one day making it to Mars, regardless of how slim the odds may be. She is immediately likable and I found myself desperately hoping she’d somehow find a way to accomplish her mission, enjoy the adventure along the way, and secure an advantageous outcome for her whole family.
You’re Going to Mars is part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, part Survivor, part the Martian, and part Obscura, but set in the world of Disney’s Wall-E…kind of. If you’re familiar with Wall-E, you may recall that robots scavenged and processed waste in the future, assigned to a certain geographical location to “clean up” abandoned cities while humans lived elsewhere, in a place largely influenced by corporations. The world Dircks creates in You’re going to Mars is reminiscent of Wall-E’s world, except there are people mining and processing waste instead of robots, and the others aren’t living aboard a starliner, but rather in the “mainland” of the United States.
Triplets Paper, Rock, and Scissors live with their father and grandmother in Fill City One where they are expected to continue this work for the duration of their lives. We learn that they are not considered citizen’s of the United States but instead, belong to the corporation that owns and operates Fill City One (and other cities like it). Dircks masterfully utilizes sensory imagery to transport readers to Paper’s world, enabling readers to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel everything that Paper does throughout the book. For instance, Paper describes her home as a place filled with both love, and a distinct smell… a place where the smell of methane and waste is such constant that the fillers have given it a name: “Everpresent Stink.” The “Everpresent Stink” is so deeply a part of her world that Paper immediately notices its absence when she takes her first breath outside of Fill City One.
When Paper receives the prized and much sought after Red Scarab, she embraces the adventure and eagerly awaits the opportunity to compete for a seat on the first manned mission to Mars, an opportunity that could fulfill her childhood dream of visiting the Red Planet while also drastically improving the quality of life for her family. The first step is escaping Fill City and the next is winning Zach Larson’s reality TV show (think Survivor meets American Idol, where contestants compete against each other to win a series of challenges based on the skills they’ll need to survive on Mars, earning points for both victories and viewer engagement).
The trouble begins almost immediately, with a risky escape from Fill City One, a potentially dangerous cross-country road trip, and a rigorous and challenging series of tests including physical competitions, the emotional strain associated with living away from her tight-knit family (in confined quarters with near strangers), and several instances of apparent sabotage, leaving Paper and other contestants to wonder what exactly they’re willing to risk to set foot on Mars and what the saboteurs could possibly be trying to hide.
You’re Going to Mars was one of the most interesting, entertaining stories I’ve listened to in quite a while. A fabulously written book with a unique plot, endearing characters, and a richly crafted world, You’re Going to Mars is one of those books I just didn’t want to put down until I finished it. I found myself eager to get in the car for my morning and evening commutes, looking forward to picking up where I left off and hoping for a few extra minutes of listening time every day. Dircks creates a near-future world that’s so believable you might forget you’re not really living in it and characters so likable and relatable that you may forget they don’t really exist.
You’ll likely find yourself cheering for Paper/Pepper/Robin, wondering if she should really trust that guy or that girl, wishing for the safety of her family, and wondering how on earth she’s going to pull it all off. The book’s narrator, Khristine Hvam helps to achieve this connection, lending Paper a voice that seems fitting for her personality and adding a certain depth to the characters that highlight Dircks superb character development.
Book Description:You're Going To Mars! by Rob Dircks
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
Published by Audible Studios on November 13th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction
Living and slaving in Fill City One, you get used to the smell. We call it the Everpresent Stink. But every once in a while, on a spring day with a breeze, it clears away enough to remind us that there is something more out there. Most Fillers' wildest dreams would be just to get past the walls and live in the mainland. But my dream? It’s a little bigger.
I’m going to Mars.
Well, I’m only going to Mars if I can find a winning Red Scarab to get on Zach Larson’s crazy reality show. And then I’ll have to figure out how to escape this hellhole. And then compete on live television for three months. And somehow win a spot on the crew of the very first manned mission to Mars. Oh, and one more slight obstacle? There might be a reason that by 2085 a human still hasn’t set foot on the Red Planet. A dangerous reason. A reason worth killing for.
In You’re Going to Mars! Rob Dircks, Audible best-selling author of Where the Hell Is Tesla?, creates a near-future filled with family (the good kind and the insufferable kind), pop divas, mobsters, and the world’s first trillionaire - and sends them all on a science fiction odyssey/comedy/love story/adventure that will change their world forever.