In Luna’s science fiction action thriller, a heroic astronaut must rescue his crew and his save his mission from a sinister conspiracy.
The near-future world of the novel sees man walking on Mars, but the planet’s role to play with humanity depends on Cmdr. Matthew “Mac” MacTavish and the crew of the spaceship Mars 2. Mac’s team of scientists and engineers must build a sustainable habitat on Mars, prepare it for the imminent arrival of Mars 3, along with a new group of astronauts, and then, hopefully, a perpetual influx of pioneers. But during their final days on the red planet, Mac’s team suddenly loses contact with Earth and Mars 3. Dr. Boyle, the crew’s pompous scientific lead, believes the spaceship, as well as everyone on Earth, has been killed by a massive solar flare. While Mac decides how to handle this catastrophe, Mars 3 unexpectedly lands near the team’s base. Mac struggles to solve this riddle, but his investigation only yields more questions, with every sliver of truth placing Mac and his crew deeper in danger. The book continues on a hydra-headed path for the duration of the story, making it compulsively engaging. As Dr. Boyle constantly reiterates, the truth is bigger than Mac can imagine. To service his plot, Luna’s characters are drawn from tried-and-true molds and travel through the book on predictable arcs. Dr. Boyle, unsurprisingly, emerges as the story’s key antagonist and grandstands like a true Bond villain. He is the perfect foil to the heroically square-jawed and straight-laced Mac, who leads his team with paternal care. Luna makes a point of highlighting Mac’s relationship with the rest of his team, immersing the reader in their camaraderie. This turns out to be an important aspect, as it gives the story a real sense of danger. Though these characters, on their own, are not necessarily special, the relationships among them are—and it hurts when Luna severs them.
An engrossing page-turner, and though some might find its characters a bit too familiar, Luna’s penchant for plot twists provide an ultimately satisfying read.