Today on the blog I’m THRILLED to bring you my review of Mars Adrift, the third and final installment of Kathleen McFall & Clark Hays’ The Halo Trilogy. This was an unputdownable read and the perfect escape for me, so read on to see why I loved this (and who my new book crush is), and enter the giveaway to win the full trilogy!
I was provided a copy of the book by the authors for review purposes; all opinions are entirely my own.
THE HALO TRILOGY: BOOK 3
by KATHLEEN McFALL + CLARK HAYS
Categories: Science Fiction / Detective (Hard-Boiled) / Mystery
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Date of Publication: February 14, 2022
Number of Pages: 300 pages
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An interplanetary mystery and a searing critique of the contemporary billionaire quest for Mars. The year is (still) 2188 and Crucial Larsen is officially done with Mars. But just as he’s set to head back to his beloved Earth, meteors crash into the orbital platforms, ravage the luxury domes and knock Halo—the powerful AI running Mars and Earth—offline. And this is no random cosmic event. An invading force has the technology to redirect space rocks at will and intends to level the Five Families.
Their first act? Put a bounty on missing Staff Scientist Melinda Hopwire, Crucial’s ex-lover—the only person left alive who can find the back-up servers to introduce the AI empathy hack, the endgame of the beleaguered Resistance. Crucial has to claw his way across the deadly Choke armed with nothing more than a glue gun, expired maple rum and Sanders, a malfunctioning cybanism, to find Mel and her synthetic perma-kitten Wisp. If he fails, it’s the end for both planets.
“A compelling saga, edgy and different…the personal, political, and social issues create a Mars story that is thoroughly absorbing. Other books have attempted to blend the genres of an investigative detective piece with sci-fi, but few achieve such a seamless integration.” – Midwest Book Review
Mars Adrift is the third and final installment in McFall and Hays’ The Halo Trilogy, and my biggest disappointment is that I’m jumping in on the third book! In all honesty, I don’t know how I haven’t read anything in this series until now (and a situation I will remedy soon). I am a huge fan of their fantastic alternate history Bonnie and Clyde series, and I couldn’t wait to see what they could do with a fully created fictional universe. (They did not disappoint!)
Part science fiction, part detective story, and part commentary on historical accuracy and relevancy, Mars Adrift is smart, funny, and thoughtful.
Crucial Larsen is my favorite kind of hero – gruff and cynical on the outside, loyal (and maybe a little broken) on the inside, and totally fun to read. Although – I must admit – by the end of the book, I had a huge book crush on Sanders, Crucial Larsen’s cyborg-ish sidekick with a weirdly large (and, okay, weird) appetite. The straight man to Crucial’s sardonic wit, his character arc is a joy.
The story is told in flashback form. Chancellor Lauren Valentine uses the story of Crucial and Mel in teaching her class on history building, and, more specifically, determining what historical narrative is accurate. What I really loved about this book is that on the surface, it is a rollicking science fiction adventure, but it also is a fascinating look at what IS history: what version of history is correct, who gets to decide it, and how it differs depending on what side of the story the historians are. It’s something that is pretty relevant right now, offered up in a truly entertaining story.
And a rollicking adventure it is. McFall and Hays have created a whole futuristic world, completely imagined right down to the food they eat (if you can call horseradish flavored pastes foods), the technology, their means of travel, the way they live on Mars’ dusty surface, terminology – it’s all really well imagined. Crucial, our hero, is a quick thinking risk-taker who gets this cast of characters into and out of one bad situation after another, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire book.
Speaking of the series: the authors handled the story in a way that it does work as a standalone. Unlike some books, the tale unfolds in such a way that they don’t need to drop in backstory to explain to bring the reader up to speed. HOWEVER, there are enough subtle bits scattered throughout that let me know that other adventures took place so that I will be buying the first two books in the series.
Mars Adrift is an easy-to-read, fast-paced and FUN science fiction adventure that will also sneakily make you think about the nature of history and how we define it.
Sneaky, indeed, and I’m not disappointed by it.
I’m giving Mars Adrift five stars for being a fun and smart read.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Mars Adrift is their tenth co-authored book.
CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN:
One winner gets autographed copies of all three books in The Halo Trilogy.
(US only. Ends 2/21/22).
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