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Before Mars (A Planetfall Novel) Paperback – Import, 17 Apr 2018
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"Before Mars is an expertly woven story that includes elements of science fiction and intrigue to keep the reader guessing from page to page...very accessible for readers who are new to the series."--Booklist
“A psychological thriller wearing the cloak of a gripping sci-fi story…delivered in excellently page-turning fashion”--LA Times
“A thrilling read.”—Space.com
“Part science fiction, part corporate conspiracy thriller…[Newman] channels both Andy Weir and Elon Musk to craft a compelling space odyssey.”—Mountain Times
“A slow-burn psychological thriller…a science fictional spin on the gaslighting theme as novels such as Girl on the Train.”—Financial Times
“Emma Newman has done it again…Before Mars was tremendously engaging and surprising. The Planetfall Series is easily one of my favorite ongoing science-fiction series.”—SFF Reviews
Praise for the Planetfall novels
"Cathartic and transcendent."--The New York Times
"Exceptionally engaging...A vivid, riveting read."--The Washington Post
"Gripping and sorrowful, this imaginative story is a satisfying return to Newman's future of greed and hope."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A thrilling tale of murder, mystery, and madness...Will keep you riveted until the very last page."--Kameron Hurly, author of The Stars Are Legion
"Emma Newman creates addictive page-turners."--Starburst Magazine
"The murder investigation will intrigue readers, while the overall feeling of something more sinister happening keeps the pages turning until the unexpected conclusion."--Booklist
About the Author
Emma Newman is an author and a professional audiobook narrator, narrating short stories and novels in all genres. She also cowrites and hosts a Hugo nominated podcast. Emma is a keen role-player, gamer and designer-dressmaker.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This third installment involves Anna Kubrick, a geologist by trade and artist by hobby. She has been sent to Mars by her employers primarily because of her art. Her billionaire boss, who owns all rights to Mars, wants her to be the first person to paint the scenery of Mars while there so that it can sell to the highest bidder back home. When Anna gets to Mars, she finds surprising hostility from some of the crew members. Matters are further confused when she finds a note of warning in her room that appears to be written in her own hand! Is she going crazy or is there something more sinister going on?
Anna is a conflicted figure who cannot decide if she wants to be on Mars or back home with her family. She feels both fake and smothered from society's expectations. Her background makes her fear that she might be headed towards mental breakdown. And she is suffering from post-natal syndrome. Reading about her troubles as an overlay on top of the mysterious situation from Mars was hard at times. Anna is a very sympathetic character and also a very strong one.
Mental health is a hard issue and from outside it seems a bit easy to see some of the problems on Mars. The reader could guess at some of the problems and their corresponding solutions. But Anna's genuine confusion and self-doubt is real. Did she make the right choices? Is her life a lie? Is she a useless mother? Why isn't she like everyone else?
Like the other two books, this is a very character-driven story. As I had guessed a lot of the mystery, I found the ending to be less than exciting even though I didn't know any of the finer details. But the story is compelling, the characterization is fantastic, and the world-building as great as ever.
I believe there is going to be another story set in this world in 2019. While waiting, do pick up any of the Planetfall books and treat yerself to a delightful story.
Without much ado, Anna throws herself in unraveling the mystery, while fearing for her mental health and being wrecked with guilt about leaving her husband and infant daughter on Earth, all of this accompanied by ample flashbacks of her troubled past. The conclusion soon becomes evident for anyone who has read the first two novels of the Planetfall series. Nevertheless, this does not diminish the pleasure of reading, as the focus of the book is, as usual, somewhere entirely else.
Just like Planetfall and After Atlas, the spotlight in Before Mars is on the human mind and its fragility. Emma Newman seems to be making a career out of illuminating the darkest corners in the human soul, with protagonists who are, time and again, either emotionally troubled or outright broken. The history of mental illness in Anna's family and her own maternal guilt are discussed with brutal honesty, and even though the book is not as disturbing as Planetfall, it will probably make many readers feel uncomfortable.
There is palpable paranoia, and even if the novel is heavily introspective, with much more attention devoted to character development than to plot, the pace does not feel too languid. The brutal reality of the future, with its universal surveillance, government corporations exercising total control and very limited human rights is fleshed out in further detail.
With two rival spaceships racing to God’s planet and a conflict abrew in the original colony, I am starting to get really curious about what will happen when all of these plot strands are put together. Considering that Emma Newman seems to be much more interested in character studies and mental illness than in plot development, it is bound to be something unexpected and very special.