Mars Away

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
242 Pages
Reviewed on 10/01/2020
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Author Biography

Jeff Christopher Leonard’s debut book, Calling Days, won the Five-Star Seal from Readers’ Favorite and was a Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist. He now presents his new adventure, Mars Away.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jose Cornelio for Readers' Favorite

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is a science fiction story that has a strong appeal to young adult readers. Set in 2050, the story follows Devin Xyear, the youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion of all time. He loves Earth and has no intention of leaving it, but Earth is dying, and plans to start the migration to Mars are underway. Losing his family tragically is a blow that Devin is having a hard time dealing with, and when he runs afoul the law, he is tasked to travel to Mars on a special mission. He is the one person with the driving skills and the speed required to navigate Olympus Mons and set off a bomb that will trigger a geologic reaction needed to make Mars habitable for humans. Can Devin complete this mission and become humanity’s hero or will he get stuck on Mars?

This is an exhilarating ride with a young protagonist that I fell in love with from the very beginning. Mars Away is fast-paced, and I loved the idea behind this novel. It is original and the plot has realistic points, from a dying Earth — a reality that is unfolding before the eyes of contemporary humans — to the inhospitable Mars. The story is written in such a way that I found myself rooting for the protagonist. Jeff Christopher Leonard is a great storyteller and he writes in beautiful prose, bringing alive a world that readers want to navigate. The pacing is fast, the conflict a global one, and the setting skillfully written. While this is an entertaining novel, it is filled with reality and provokes conversation on the survival of the human race.

Ruffina Oserio

Set in 2050, Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard introduces readers to a fabulous character: Devin Xyear. He lives in a world that is slowly dying and the only alternative for the survival of humanity is Mars. But Mars isn’t habitable, and scientists will need someone to set off bombs in Olympus Mons to create a chain reaction that can transform Mars into a place where humans can survive. Devin has been racing professionally from the time he was sixteen, winning many races and raising eyebrows with a slew of trophies. He is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, and he is asked to accomplish an impossible mission to save humanity after getting into trouble with the law. He has the driving skills and what it takes to accomplish the mission that can transform Mars into a home for humanity. Does he have it in him?

Mars Away is a lovely story filled with adventure and a protagonist that I loved. It is a tale of courage and the journey of a young man from just caring about his personal glory to thinking about the welfare of everyone. There are interesting characters in the story and they are well-written. The plot has many interesting points. Jeff Christopher Leonard writes with unusual fluidity and engages readers with excellent prose and great dialogues. The story is transporting, hugely relevant, and inspiring. One of those books that invite readers to think about their personal contribution to the healing of the earth and the future of humanity. It is deft and balanced, an enchanting read for fans of science fiction and adventure.

Gobi Jane

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is a young adult science fiction novel set in the future in 2050 and at a time when Earth is completely dying. Plans are made to move humankind to Mars, but Mars isn’t yet a welcome home. Scientists are working on terraforming Mars and they have found a way of going about it. Devin is the youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion of all time, and having suffered a devastating loss, he runs into trouble with the law. But he happens to have what scientists need to navigate Olympus Mons and set off bombs that will spark the transformation of Mars. He is sent on a perilous mission to Mars and the fate of humanity rests on his shoulders. Can he succeed?

Mars Away is a story that I enjoyed immensely, and I loved the protagonist, a young man who learns racing under his father and who develops strong ties with his friends on Earth. Now, apart from being a superstar, he has to leave the Earth that he loves for a mission that is dangerous and uncertain. The plot is strong and I enjoyed the fact that Jeff Christopher Leonard deftly handles environmental themes, making readers notice the importance of protecting the Earth. The setting is wonderfully written and the author has that unique skill for arousing the imaginations of readers. The conflict is developed at multiple levels, with the protagonist thrust into the center of an interplanetary adventure, one that requires all his courage. Jeff Christopher Leonard writes with unusual fluidity and creates characters that are spellbinding. Mars Away combines science fiction, coming-of-age, and adventure to create a wonderful reading experience for readers.

Rabia Tanveer

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is a young adult science fiction novel that will make you hold your breath and hold on for dear life. Life on Earth was great for Devin. He was the youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion and he had his family to back him up. So, he wasn't obsessed with going to Mars like everyone else. He was never going to go there. However, that all changed when tragedy struck, and Devin was left reeling. Devastated and lost, Devin got caught on the wrong side of the law, but he was given a choice to save the world to pay for his sins. All he had to do was go to Mars, drive around Olympus Mons, and start a chain reaction that would help scientists make Mars habitable for the people of Earth. Time was running out for Earth, and Devin’s decision could change the future for millions. Devin had nothing to lose so what was stopping him? Would he take the risk?

Oh boy, I could easily imagine how much research Jeff Christopher Leonard did for Mars Away, but it was worth it. There was a lot of drama, a lot of emotions, but they all brought something fantastic to the table. I enjoyed how well-developed Devin he was. He was the quintessential new adult, but his circumstances turned him into a mess. He needed a wake-up call, he was determined to risk it all, and his development depended on his emotional stability. I enjoyed the action and how it drove the story forward. There was never a dull moment in the plot. The narrative was engaging, it flowed beautifully and was descriptive enough to make the reader feel a part of the story. Absolutely brilliant and its execution is perfect.

Romuald Dzemo

The future of humanity is in the balance as Earth is dying. Mars might be the only solution for humankind’s survival, but it is not hospitable to humans. However, scientists have found a way — or they think they do — to engineer geological changes that can transform Mars into a welcome home for humanity. It is the year 2050, and the youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Devin Xyear, is enjoying his glory and fame. But he also suffers the loss of his family. When he gets into trouble with the law, he is sent on a mission to Mars. He has the driving skills scientists are looking for to set off bombs that will transform Mars into a place that humans can inhabit. Is young Devin the answer to the survival of humankind?

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is an engrossing read that had me enmeshed in the story from beginning to the end. The themes of environmental crisis, personal loss, family, survival, and adventure are woven intimately into the story. Jeff Christopher Leonard has a strong narrative voice and knows how to create a conflict that catches the attention and interest of readers. The characters are elaborately developed and they are rich when it comes to their backgrounds. The conflict is not something farfetched, but a reality that stares humanity in the face. The author takes a crisis that has been the concern of humanity and transforms it into a delightful story. Mars Away is one of the best things I have read in science fiction, written in a style that is cinematic and featuring characters that I cared about.

K.C. Finn

Mars Away is a work of fiction in the science fiction, action, and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Jeff Christopher Leonard. In this exciting and original tale for young adult reading audiences and upwards, we find ourselves witnessing the coming of age of a rising star, but one whose past tragedies will certainly put him to the test. Devin Xyear’s success as a NASCAR sprinter is well known, but the price of fame takes its toll when he ends up on the wrong side of the law. Soon he finds himself embarking on a mission to another world entirely, one that could result in either the future salvation or total destruction of humankind.

Author Jeff Christopher Leonard has crafted a highly compelling science fiction novel that teens and adult readers alike will be sure to get their teeth into. The work is not overly complex, but ties in technological themes like terraforming and space travel with ease to enhance and enrich the plot. I liked the immediacy of the drama and that Devin was always at the forefront of events, giving readers a dynamic and fully emotionally developed character to invest in as the adventure plays out. This dynamism also plays into both the sharp dialogue of the piece and the atmospheric descriptions of the thrill of sprint racing, and of traveling to worlds beyond our own. Overall, this makes Mars Away a truly exciting and easy to enjoy work of science fiction, and I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for their next adventure.

Foluso Falaye

Mars Away is about an eighteen-year-old NASCAR racer who gets sent to Mars against his wish. Devin Xyear's nightmare begins when he loses his parents, which leads him to grieve recklessly, get arrested, and be sent to Mars on a life-threatening mission. After unwittingly passing the compulsive qualification test, he is put through some activities structured to prepare him for his mission of making Mars more habitable and saving humanity from annihilation. However, he must first get past the loss and pain of losing his parents and his anger at being forced to leave Earth for Mars. Jeff Christopher Leonard's Mars Away is a fast-paced and hard-to-put-down space novel that would appeal to fans of The Martian by Andy Weir and James S.A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes.

I know I really like a book when it gives me a unique sensation that resurfaces every time I remember it, and Jeff Christopher Leonard's space narrative is a perfect example of this. Mars Away had me lost in space with vivid descriptions and intricate details about how normal activities like playing basketball can be different in space. The conversations are lively, and I could see myself partaking in them. It was pleasantly easy to connect with the characters and their realistic personalities. Every space sci-fi lover would be thrilled by Jeff Leonard's book and its absorbing depiction of a mission that involves colonizing Mars. Mars Away had me glued from the start and captivated by every thoughtful twist until it reached a rewarding and surprising end. It's totally worth a read!

Susan Sewell

In the year 2050, a young man arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol is sentenced to complete his punishment on Mars in the intriguing science-fiction novel, Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard. Devin Xyear grew up on the racing track with his famous NASCAR winning father, and is looking forward to carrying on the family tradition. However, in a moment of drunken insanity, Devin's father unexpectedly drowns, and Devin's life changes course. Soon after his father's death, Devin's mother succumbs to the cancer she had been battling. Winning his first race, Devin is the youngest person to have won the Sprint Cup, but now he has no family left with whom to share his good fortune. Devastated, Devin goes on an alcoholic binge, and in an unfortunate turn of events, is involved in a car wreck and a small altercation with a police officer. However, instead of rehabilitation or jail time, Devin is being sent to Mars. Why Mars? Will he ever have the chance to return to Earth?

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is an entertaining science-fiction novel with an intriguing twist. The plot develops at a fast pace, swiftly moving from one scene to the next, creating a captivating storyline. With each aspect of Devin's training and departure for Mars described in detail, the descriptive content creates a clear-cut and comprehensible plot. With interesting characters, a solid storyline, and graphic scenes, young adults and anyone else who enjoys science-fiction novels that include space travel and unique technology will not want to miss this book.

Edilyn Trinidad

Jeff Christopher Leonard’s Mars Away is a sci-fi novel set three decades from now. Racecar driving prodigy Devin Xyear found himself on the other side of a much stricter law and was banished to Mars as part of a crucial mission to terraform the Earth’s twin. The story is filled with incredible descriptions of what our planet would be like in the future in terms of technological advancement and overall quality of life. Devin’s daredevil lifestyle has been given a whole new exciting meaning as he adapts to life on Mars. It’s fascinating to imagine that sending people to outer space would not be exclusive to just scientists and astronauts. Sci-fi enthusiasts will be intrigued by Jeff Christopher Leonard’s take on transforming us from Earthlings to Martians.

I liked the future depicted by Jeff Christopher Leonard in Mars Away. Devin Xyear’s adventures not just on Earth but also on Mars are exciting to read. And with the rate our technology is growing, it is not far-fetched to think that we are closer to achieving such a feat. Imagining a community of humans in outer space separate from us is enthralling and terrifying at the same time. I also liked Devin Xyear’s competitiveness despite being sent against his will. Mars Away highlights human beings’ willingness to set their safety aside for the greater good and future generations. It’s thrilling to think that there may come a time when our professions can also be used on Mars, maybe even on another planet outside our solar system. I sure hope I’m still around when it happens. This fast-paced adventure has been a fascinating read!

Michelle Randall

Life on Earth is great until it isn't. Everything was going Devin's way; he was a prodigy in the NASCAR world, following in his father's footsteps until tragedy struck, and even becoming the youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion couldn't save him. After his father dies followed only days later by his mother, Devin's world is turned upside down and he makes a rash decision that lands him in jail. From jail, he is sentenced to run a mission to Mars, and not just any mission but one to save the colony and possibly Earth, and - even better - one with even odds at failing. Mars Away is the story of Devin's journey to Mars and his determination to see a mission through, even with a good chance of failing, and returning back to Earth, only nothing goes as planned. Author Jeff Christopher Leonard writes a compelling story of life, choices, and redemption.

The first few chapters of the book tell you the backstory of Devin and focus on NASCAR and his successes in the business and sport. This is not your average 18-year-old we are talking about, but one that has everything going for him. Once the tragedies hit, first his father dying in an accident then his mother from cancer, we move into the bad choices and the ramifications of them. Of course, since Devin isn't your average teenager, what happens to him isn't average either. Then again, the book is set in 2050, and things are a little different. Mars Away is not only the story of Devin, but of a colony on Mars, something that seems so unreal at this point in time, but was a reality in the book. You get a history of the colony and what it is like to live there, although not as much time is spent on that aspect of the story. This is understandable because it is the truly most fictional part of the story. Author Jeff Christopher Leonard has given us a story that appeals to both young and older readers of both sexes in that there are lots of adventure, fast cars, and space travel. This is a quick read that will have you thinking of the possibilities of what is next for humankind.

Jessica Barbosa

Jeff Christopher Leonard's Mars Away is set in a futuristic timeline in Earth and Mars in the year 2050. It portrays the inability of planet Earth to further sustain and/or support the ever growing human population. And so it's a race against time for humanity, as they make plans to colonize Mars to ensure the survival of the human race. The scientists have found a way to make the hostile living situation in Mars habitable for human life via a bomb that would trigger a geologic reaction throughout the planet. However, they need someone to detonate it. Enter Devin Xyear, who is daring and has the driving skills to navigate the dangerous terrain of the new planet, but is uninterested in humanity's plan to colonize and move to Mars.

Leonard's action-packed, adventure sci-fi novel utilizes a blend of in-depth research on geology and an amazing amount of imagination and writing skill to create something as astounding as this! It is entertaining, fast-paced, and it really got me thinking about the future and what it holds for our fast growing population. It is superbly written and the ideas and explanations presented regarding the colonization of Mars made me really believe that it could be possible. It also delves into the subject of survival in an unknown environment, and the characterization and the development of the characters throughout this hostile environment was also one of the wonderful traits of the book. It had me flipping the pages faster than I thought possible. The end result is that this book has left me wanting and thirsting for more! I can only hope to read the sequel in the near future. Amazing, wonderful, superb job!

Christian Sia

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is an interesting read for fans of sci-fi, a compelling story with an interplanetary setting. In a story set against the backdrop of a dying Earth in 2050, readers are introduced to a planetary conflict: Earth may have only a hundred years of survival left. The only hope for Earth’s inhabitants is an exodus to Mars, but how can they survive on a planet that is inhospitable?

Scientists have found a way of transforming Mars into a place that can accommodate humans and a brave soul is needed to start the operation that can change Mars into a home for humanity. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Devin Xyear, finds himself being given an impossible mission. Having transgressed the law, he is charged with travelling to Mars and setting off a bomb that will trigger a geological mutation. Can he be the hero Earth badly needs and what are his chances of survival?

While Mars Away is an engaging and entertaining story, it is a powerful prophetic work with a message that humanity needs to heed. The author seems keen on following the signs of the times and sends a strong warning through this novel that we may lose Earth if we don’t start taking care of it now. His characters are awesome, rock-solid, and very relatable. It is interesting that the protagonist is compelled to undertake a mission that is contrary to everything he stands for — leaving Earth is the last thing he’d have considered, but he is coerced into it. The setting is vivid and readers will feel that the author did his research well. Jeff Christopher Leonard is a skilled writer and the plot is as engaging as the prose. A great read, indeed!

Sefina Hawke

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is a science fiction novel set in the year 2050. Mars Away will appeal most to a mixed audience of adults and young adults who enjoy reading science fiction books. The story follows Devin Xyear, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, as some trouble with the law forces him to assist in the colonization of Mars. Devin Xyear's task will be to utilize his NASCAR skills to navigate Olympus Mons and set off a bomb that will make Mars more hospitable to human life, and allow people to escape from a dying Earth to a life on Mars. The trouble comes with the fact that success means a hero’s welcome and failure means the death of Earth and him being stuck on Mars.

Move over Anakin Skywalker, Captain Kirk, and Captain Picard and make room for Jeff Christopher Leonard’s Devin Xyear. Devin Xyear easily became my favorite character in the book as, while he was a reluctant hero, he still had to put his racing skills to the test to save the people of Earth and transform Mars. The setting and the plot were both rather unique and the idea of the hero being a racer instead of some hot shot wild card agent or police officer was very cool. Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard reminded me of a mix between Disney’s Cars, the Transporter movies, and the Transporter TV show with how the protagonist’s main skills were those found behind the wheel. All in all, I really enjoyed the wild ride that was Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard.

Marta Tandori

The year is 2050 and eighteen-year-old Devin “Devilspree” Xyear has an idyllic life – two wonderful parents who love him unconditionally and a promising career as a NASCAR driver, following in the footsteps of his charismatic forty-year-old father, Derry, also a NASCAR champion, who’s going to be retiring after his last big race – assuming that he qualifies, of course. Devin’s father is prepared to walk away from it all after this last race in order to support Devin’s own racing career and to devote more time to Devin’s mother, who’s dying of cancer and has only months left to live. Devin and his parents live in a beautiful home perched on the cliff overlooking Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz, California, and the only things disrupting the beauty of their surroundings are the annoying imageals, which are 3-D holograms used to recruit volunteers for the next great shuttle to Mars set for later in the year.

Mars Away by talented writer Jeff Christopher Leonard is the perfect sci-fi drama for YA readers and lovers of this genre. Somewhat idealistic, Mars Away is an entertaining story that is rife with adventure and daring. Devin is a likeable and engaging protagonist whom the reader cannot help but root for. What makes the story particularly engaging is that although it’s set in the future, there are many elements that are grounded in today’s reality. This keeps the reader fully engaged in the story as it unfolds. Who would’ve thought that sci-fi and NASCAR could make such interesting bedfellows? In any event, Mars Away ticks a lot of boxes and has plenty going for it. A worthwhile read from beginning to end!

Deepak Menon

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is a futuristic imaginative tale of a young motor racing professional named Devin ‘Devilspree’ Xyear as he turns eighteen years old in the year 2050. His father had been a professional racer of repute and the son followed closely in his footsteps. The setting is the west coast of America where the project Mars One, which is a neon-red roller coaster powered by super magnets, hovers above the beach and extends nearly a quarter of a mile out into the bay, attracting a plethora of tourists. The first few extremely exciting chapters are about motor racing. Then the hero makes a horrific mistake, with well researched riveting scenarios of legal manipulation, but even as the reader is biting his nails the setting shifts to the planet Mars where a settlement had been created, as a result of the necessity of mankind migrating to the Red Planet because of overpopulation and multifarious generic problems arising on Earth.

To attract the most suitable and qualified people to recruit themselves for migration to Mars, a skycast of the imageal promoting Mars was used, called “Mars Away!” To avoid spoilers, I just have to say that Jeff Christopher Leonard opens new vistas of mankind’s future, with fine descriptive writing and the chief protagonist Devilspree’s turnaround to meet what one can only describe as his destiny. The flow of the story is good with unexpected events arising one after the other, none of which seems implausible. The author has used explanatory and descriptive language effectively to enable comprehension of the scenarios to readers unacquainted with the possibilities intrinsically woven around the strange new world of the future. The climax is unexpected in keeping with the theme of the book. I think this book is a good read for people of imagination.

Kathryn Bennett

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard introduces us to Devin Xyear and the amazing world he lives in. Devin's family has always stated that they would never go to Mars. When the 2050 ship filled with colonists and all the supplies they will need to survive arrives, Devin couldn't care less. He has a fantastic career as a NASCAR champion and plans to stay firmly planted on Earth. Unfortunately when he gets into trouble with the law, Devin is sent to Mars and given a special mission. Earth is dying and will no longer be able to support life. Devin, the fearless NASCAR driver, will have to navigate Olympus Mons and set off a bomb; this is what scientists say will make the planet work with human life. Can he do what he is tasked with and become a hero who is allowed to return to Earth? Or will he fail, dooming those on planet Earth to their fate when the planet dies, and dooming himself to remain on Mars?

This is probably the most unique book I have read in 2016, and I loved it. There have been many different books about Mars and how people could live there or were stranded there, but this one seems to breathe fresh life into the story. Who would have thought a NASCAR driver would be the linchpin in a plan to save human life? Devin is an interesting character and my first thought of him was simply that, oh yeah, he is a typical NASCAR driver. He is fearless and more than a little cocky, but once on Mars things begin to change. Wouldn't you feel a change in you if you were on an alien planet and had to help to save the people on Earth? I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but this is an action packed book that keeps you riveted. Jeff Christopher Leonard knows how to spin a fantastic yarn. I can't wait to read more.

Ray Simmons

Don’t judge a book by its cover…or synopsis. I keep forgetting that. I almost didn't read Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard because neither the cover nor the synopsis really piqued my interest. My impression was that this story was probably not good and there must be something better to read. But I told myself to give it a chance; after all, the exploration of Mars is the next big target for NASA and I was in the mood for some near future science fiction. To my surprise and delight, Mars Away turned out to be a great book. It reminded me of all those books that Robert A. Heinlein wrote for teenagers in the 1960s. I read them all. A lot of my generation did. They were great for getting young minds interested in science, reading, and the future. I can say exactly the same for Mars Away.

Jeff Christopher Leonard makes Mars Away work. He makes it not only exciting, but totally believable. The characters, especially the protagonist Devin Xyear, are characters you already know or people you would like to meet. The future imagined is easily a future that can become real based on what’s happening right now. Jeff Christopher Leonard does two things extremely well. He moves the adventure along at a brisk pace and he pays attention to the details. Those are two things that an author sometimes finds hard to balance, but in Mars Away, Jeff Christopher Leonard pulls it off like an experienced professional.

Scott Cahan

Mars Away, by Jeff Christopher Leonard, is a story of heroism set in the near future when mankind is struggling to establish a stable colony on Mars. The story follows a young race car driver named Devin Xyear as he is sent, against his will, to be among a crew that will attempt a dangerous mission on Mars. He is a daredevil with lots of heart. Along the way, we meet many colorful characters that are also involved in the plan; some who want to be there and others who don’t. One standout character that emerges is a female named Mevina who, by the book’s end, turns out to be Devin’s match in heroism.

There is much to love about Mars Away. Author Jeff Christopher Leonard has done a fine job in crafting a true American hero along the lines of Han Solo or James Kirk (as a young man in the new movie series). The story painstakingly follows his journey from spoiled superstar to a real hero. Mars Away also gives us plenty of juicy details about the Mars colony, its troubled beginnings, its tenuous existence, and the risky mission that must be accomplished in order for it to survive. I enjoyed reading Mars Away for the most part. My only regret is that too much of the story focused on the build-up to the mission and not enough on the mission itself. However, the final climactic chapter was extremely satisfying and left me anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. Mars Away is a strong beginning to what looks like a great new science fiction series.

Maureen Dangarembizi

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard is a sci-fi novel set on Earth in the year 2050. Devin “Devilspree” Xyear is the talented son of legendary NASCAR racer Derry “Devilhaul” Xyear. Like his father, Devin wants to race, race and race. With his father close to retirement, it is a matter of course that Devin will pick up his mantle. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it. After his father dies in a swimming accident and his mother slips away from cancer, Devin’s life crumbles around him. His father’s sponsors and team want nothing to do with him and he’s just been arrested for driving under the influence. The only way he can redeem himself is by travelling to Mars and carrying out a deadly mission that could save the human race.

One of the things I loved about Mars Away was the use of the familiar things that made the characters very human. When most writers take us to the future, they strip away the things we know and give us something completely different as if the family structure or the Earth will completely collapse as technology advances. When Devin travels from Earth to Mars, Jeff Christopher Leonard gives us a perfect contrast between the two planets. Mars is nothing like the characters imagined it would be. There are so many lessons here, but the most notable are 'be careful what you wish for' and 'what you think you want might not be what you need.' This book is suitable for readers of all ages who enjoy a good sci-fi story. Hopefully there will be more books about Devin “Devilspree” Xyear.

Charles Remington

Mars Away by Jeff Christopher Leonard opens with the central characters watching the sun set from the balcony of their clifftop home in Santa Cruz, California. Devin ‘Devilspree’ Xyear has just turned eighteen and is enjoying a drink with father Derry ‘Devilhaul’ Xyear, a champion racing driver, and his mother, Dolly. Devin works with his father’s highly successful pit crew and the family is able to maintain a first class lifestyle. The one fly in the ointment at this time is Dolly’s terminal cancer and although she is determined that the illness should not affect their lives, its shadow hovers in the background, an unwelcome, fearsome spectre.

Things are about to change dramatically, however, as a series of tragic events finds Devin on Mars, engaged in a terrifying, life-threatening mission to save the planet and the very future of humanity. Sentenced by a kangaroo court, Devin is wrenched from the NASCAR racing world he loves and transported to the barren Red Planet where he must brave the heights of the massive volcano Olympus Mons, on a task that all admit has less than a 50/50 chance of success. The odds are stacked against him, but he must achieve success in order to have any chance at all of returning to Earth. Assisted by the beautiful Mars-born Mevina, can his hard-won driving skills enable him to win through?

Mars Away is classic science fiction - a good story line with plenty of action sprinkled with some novel ideas and scenarios. I particularly liked the ‘imageal’ commercials (from my point of view a nightmarish method of advertising, but eminently possible) you will find described in this book. The characters are well-drawn in a narrative which moves at a steady, though sometimes ponderous pace while the author takes time to explain the intricacies of the world he has created. A solid second opus from a relative newcomer to the genre. I enjoyed Mars Away and wish Mr. Leonard every success with it. I look forward to further installments.