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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
There’s No Basketball on Mars is a work of fiction in the adventure subgenre. It is aimed at young adult readers and was penned by author Craig Leener. The book follows maths savant Lawrence Tuckerman, an autistic young man whose best friend is leaving for Kansas to pursue his dream of playing basketball professionally. As Lawrence settles into a new (and less social) life, he dreams of one day visiting Mars and a mission with intergalactic stakes is presented to him. Whilst his unique mind makes him the perfect candidate for the mission, it also makes being part of a team a challenge.
I often find that depicting autistic characters authentically and respectfully is a challenge for authors who don’t have autism themselves, as from the outside the way of looking at the world can seem quite alien. Fortunately for readers, author Craig Leener demonstrates an understanding of the condition that is delightful to read and feels like a natural part of Lawrence’s characterization rather than a gimmick. Despite being a spin-off from a trilogy of books about Lawrence’s best friend Zeke, this narrative stands on its own and is accessible to those unfamiliar with the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the themes of pursuing your dreams and taking scary opportunities if they help you move forward in life. There’s No Basketball on Mars realizes these ideas beautifully with a compelling narrative about dynamic characters who each feel grounded even when they’re far from the ground. Overall, the novel is an exciting adventure about a fun and relatable hero that I would happily recommend to all readers.