Review of The Lion of Mars, by Jennifer L. Holm

The Lion of Mars

by Jennifer L. Holm

Random House, 2021. 259 pages.
Review written January 8, 2022, from a library book

This is a book about a kid who has grown up on Mars, who needs to draw on inner resources when he’s the only one who can save the colony.

Now, that description fits a few books I’ve read recently. This one features Bell, an 11-year-old boy who can’t remember ever going beyond the American compound, which is underground on Mars in an empty lava tube. Sure, he’s ridden on rovers and been to the communication station that pokes up above ground, but this is home to him.

There was a time when the Americans cooperated and communicated with the humans from other countries living on Mars. They even built an underground network of trains together — trains that now sit idle. Earth is at war, and Bell has been told he can’t trust people from other nations.

So when all the adults in their compound get sick, the kids are going to have to break some rules.

This is a fun story, though when the real reason for the Americans cutting off from the other nations was revealed, I didn’t buy it. (Won’t say more than that, because I don’t want to give anything away.)

Other books about living on Mars make a lot more of the fact that going outside can easily kill you and the technical details about staying alive. This one was more about a kid growing up not knowing anything different than the small compound where they eat food made from algae and are cared for by the entire compound. (The children growing up on Mars were brought there as orphaned babies, and their family is everyone together.)

This is a fun story about growing up in unusual circumstances, with a message that we all need each other.

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