Collins, A.L.: Redworld: Year One.
Collins, A.L. Redworld: Year One. Illus. by Tomislav Tikulin. Capstone, February 2018. 320p. $8.95 Trade pb. 978-1-6237-0986-0.
3Q * 3P * M
Seeking a new life, thirteen-year-old Belle Song and her family move to Mars from the overpopulated, dying Earth. Upon arriving, Belle's parents are disappointed to find their corporate job is no longer available, so they set out to become farmers in a sparsely populated region. Divided into four parts with opening illustrations, Redworld: Year One follows Belle as she settles into making Mars her home, battles enemy raiders, discovers new cultures in new cities, and uncovers a past secret that may help to heal the tense alien race relations of the planet. As Belle continues her adventures on Mars, she learns that even though she is young she can help to make changes in her new home.
Collins's creation of a terraformed Mars society filled with hybrid animals and diverse alien races--including humans--has promise and intrigue, but the world-building is overshadowed by the focus on the action and conflicts in the narrative. The action succeeds in pushing the plot forward and will keep young readers engaged. The conflicts Collins introduces parallel our own issues and conversations on racism, xenophobia, immigration, and non-traditional family structures, but the treatment and resolution of these issues is simplistic and shallow. Belles characterization as a naive thirteen year old oversimplifying these complex issues of bias may seem inauthentic to older middle grade readers, but younger readers may find the simplified lessons and solutions compelling.--Jewel Davis.