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The War On Mars

By

Not for me 😔

tl;dr: 'The War on Mars' starts well, but it soon devolves into a mish-mash of conspiracy theories.

Synopsis

Take a journey through the darkness with Erica, a troubled veteran who has been separated from her family and will do anything in her power to reunite with them. All is not what it seems as a virus ravages Earth making humans unaware of the sinister moves happening under the surface. An eccentric billionaire creeps from behind the shadows, his brilliance manipulated to a wavelength humans are unable to comprehend as he holds the fate of the entire world in his hands. Erica must fight off the crushing weight of despair, join an ancient rebellion lead by a mysterious woman named the Seer, and find out that you never know how close to reality the unimaginable is. Join Erica as she overcomes old military trauma, questions what it even means to be human, and explores the secret thoughts of what the world would be if humans were to cease to exist. When knowledge of a sinister plan for humanity falls into her hands, Erica must decide what is worth fighting for, her family or humanity. So begins, The War On Mars.

The story starts with Erica, a military veteran, hiding from something in the woods. She has been doing so for a few months now. We discover that she is searching for her husband and children amid an alien invasion.


The story starts well with the premise listed above. I like a good 'survival against the odds' fiction even if the premise has been used in other books & movies. Even more so, when the story breaks gender stereotypes. 


Erica's character, at least in the first half of the story, is quite interesting. She uses her skills gained in the military to survive in the woods. But this physical struggle of hers intertwines with the mental anguish of not knowing her partner's or children's fate. Her mental strength comes through in this section at least.


But the moment the big reveal happens, the story becomes comical. I don't want to give out spoilers, but let me say that the villain's name rhymes with Melon Tusk. If you found that name cringe-worthy, the names used in the book are no better. I really wish the author had chosen much better names & metaphors. I totally lost interest in reading after that, since it dilutes everything the author has been trying to say while also trivializing that Melon Tusk has achieved. 


After this point, the story feels like a sixth-grader has written it. Suddenly, all the current conspiracy theories that float around the internet become part of the story. Many of them are ludicrous. This is the second item that kills the book for me.


The book could also use some good editing since there are plenty of continuity jumps, grammatical and spelling mistakes. But this is a lesser problem than the Melon Tusk references & conspiracy theories since it can be fixed even now.


'The War on Mars' can be better if the author focuses on Erica Rae and showcases her struggle like Mark Watney in 'The Martian'. Also, she needs to drop Melon Tusk since it just distracts from the rest of the story.

Reviewed by

Kartik reads a lot as his tastes are eclectic. He formally started reviewing books on his blog Digital Amrit in 2015, since he wanted fellow readers to partake in the joy of discovering and reading. He works with indie and best-selling authors as part of their alpha/beta/ARC teams.

Synopsis

Take a journey through the darkness with Erica, a troubled veteran who has been separated from her family and will do anything in her power to reunite with them. All is not what it seems as a virus ravages Earth making humans unaware of the sinister moves happening under the surface. An eccentric billionaire creeps from behind the shadows, his brilliance manipulated to a wavelength humans are unable to comprehend as he holds the fate of the entire world in his hands. Erica must fight off the crushing weight of despair, join an ancient rebellion lead by a mysterious woman named the Seer, and find out that you never know how close to reality the unimaginable is. Join Erica as she overcomes old military trauma, questions what it even means to be human, and explores the secret thoughts of what the world would be if humans were to cease to exist. When knowledge of a sinister plan for humanity falls into her hands, Erica must decide what is worth fighting for, her family or humanity. So begins, The War On Mars.

WHO DO YOU BLAME?

I can see how losing his other half has settled onto Michael’s body. His brown hair is wild and sticking up in all directions over his head while his shoulders slump under the weight of loss and he takes quick glances at John. As if John can feel his father’s insecurity, he turns and heads into his arms. He snuggles down cross-legged between his father’s legs with his back pressed against his chest and looks up at me.

“Have you guys had anything to eat today, John?” I ask, the mother in me only wanting to make this little boy smile. Both men look at each other, then at their backpacks.

“We planned to stop at the stream back there and fish.” Michael points to his pack and I see a pole folded and strapped to the front. I look over at John and see the hollow skin around his cheeks and the look of hunger in his eyes at the mention of food.

“Stay here and I’ll be right back.” I take off before they answer and move in the complete opposite direction of the Nest towards the outhouse and loop back around the very edge of the woods towards home. My heart aches for this little family, but I am not sure I want us to join forces. I really just want to give them some supplies and send them on their way. I grab a jumbo box of beef jerky, a large bag of trail mix, some bottled water and loop the way back around. The entire group’s mood instantly lifts as I enter the clearing and I feel better knowing I can help them in some way.

We sit around the campfire in silence as they stuff themselves; Michael asks questions about my life before this. I give him a basic story, nothing really before the age of eighteen, and how I joined the Air Force, had kids, got married, and was still trying to find my place in the world. At twenty-five years old I still feel like a child myself trying to navigate this crazy world. They both nod their heads and it feels good to speak to another human being.

Rowan tells his own story and it’s shorter than mine. He is thirty-one, no kids, no wife, and just lost a girlfriend who was a nurse: one of the first to be struck down on the front lines against the virus. His relationship with his parents long ago lost to some childhood feud. Then, his sister went to the hospital and survival has consumed his life since.

I look at Michael fiddling with a stick and some fishing line. He mummers about his wife and how they used to work together at the observatory, looking down at his son in his lap. I glance at John as he leans against his father, his eyes starting to drift. I look back at Rowan staring at the sky and realize this whole family has been torn apart by loss and our common ground binds us together. I decide to let them join me and my heart blossoms at the prospect of the help these two could provide me. Always an optimist, I could get Peter and my kids out while providing shelter and supplies in return. I stand up to invite them into the Nest when John moves and gets up as well.

“Dad, I have to use the bathroom,” John says.

Michael glances at me. “Do you have a certain spot you use?”

I nod giving him directions to the outhouse they passed on the way in back up the path. I want to offer to take John when Michael slings his rifle and begins limping along, but I bite my tongue in silence. We are all still strangers. I have a sudden urge to call out to them and my voice breaks the peaceful silence.

“When you guys get back, I’ll take you to my home okay? A warm place to stay with food, water, and I’m pretty sure there are a few action figures lying around you can play with, John,” I yell.

The little boy’s face breaks into a smile and his long hair bounces as he jumps up and down in excitement. Michael gives me a grateful smile and he limps away with John bouncing around him in circles. I turn to look at Rowan and see him already glaring down at me. His eyes are hard and where I thought the beard at first was a hipster look, I realize my mistake now and I can finally see it. The way he holds his body and how the entire time I told my story he watched every little movement I made. He must be Special Forces, and I wonder who sent him out and for what. The veteran bond doesn’t trump trust in the apocalypse, apparently.

I motion for him to grab his stuff and reach for John’s and Michael’s packs. Rowan’s voice appears right behind my left ear as he speaks in a low voice, “Drop it. I’ll grab them.” Steel. That’s what his voice sounds like as cold fear shoots through me and I foolishly realize my rifle is still strung on my back.

My hand moves to my thigh where my handgun rests and I turn around to look at Rowan. His eyes are different shades of dark green; they wrap around a slightly large pupil and hazel splashes with golden freckles sprinkle his irises. Most would see beauty and strength, but all I can see is a cold, dangerous forest hidden as some beast stalks in the shadows looking out. Neither of us says another word and I open my eyes wide with fear as I hear the distinct chirping begin. Rowan reacts quickly to my face, knowing it’s not him who scares me, and spins around immediately grabbing the rifle and asking me what’s wrong.

I can only picture John’s face as he showed his dad the little chocolate chips he found in his trail mix, so happy and innocent, like only a child can be. Rowan yells at me to answer him.

“We have to go now,” I blurt out. There are a few times the Cyclits have come through here, but I was always on my guard. Now, I am taken by surprise and not paying attention to the forest around me realizing the dire mistake I have made.

Rowan yells for Michael and John while I quickly grab their packs and brush leaves over where we sat. Rowan pulls on his shoes and follows my lead, spreading leaves around where they slept last night helping me only until I start moving towards the Nest. I know I’ll have to do it before he even makes a move; I can feel his force. I could see it from the look in his eye when I was telling my story that he was going to be a fighter, a man who makes the decisions and is followed. I swing around at the crunch of his steps just as he reaches for my elbow to stop me. He is taken by surprise at my sudden pivot and his eyebrows rise quickly before lowering down as I swing the butt of my rifle into the side of his head and he blacks out.


About the author

Mother, Daughter, Wife, Writer, Veteran, Student, Citizen. No matter what dreams I wanted to follow, I only knew I had to go out into the world to find them. I continue dreaming with my head in the clouds, hoping one day my imagination can help change the world. view profile

Published on July 28, 2020

Published by

40000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by