Book Review: Lake of Mars by Merritt Graves


ashley | I was offered a copy of Lake of Mars by Merritt Graves for honest review. It had an interesting sci-fi sounding plot description, but I went into this probably a bit more hesitantly than I needed to be, as this is a very well written and thought out book.

The plot itself I thought was really interesting. At times, it kind of reminded me of a video game, different teams and a point system and everyone vying to survive. At other times, it reminded me of Lord of the Flies. It was a bit of a complex story though; there were a lot of moving parts, a lot of different rules and pieces that came together to make this machine move. The characters underwent a lot of tests of loyalty and misdirection, which a lot of the time left my head spinning.

The characters were strong and grew slowly over time.There was a viciousness to some of them too, a viciousness that was kind of unsettling, but intriguing. All the characters kind of had their own specific role, but none of them were too cliched and they all developed into deeply interesting characters. I liked Aaron as the sort of unsung hero. I enjoyed watching home grow from a hopeless boy on a suicide mission to an unexpected leader. Sebastian was also a favourite; insecure and uncertain, it was really interesting watching him come into his own as well. While this seems to be a bit of a boys club (I think there’s even a point in the book where they say only the absolute minimum number of women are even allowed there), the few female characters we do run across were enough to make up for that.

One of the main issues I had, though, was with the world building. Don’t get me wrong, this was a wonderfully imaginative and thought out world. I just wish there had been a bit more explanation in the beginning. I felt a little lost for a good part of the book because I didn’t know the rules of this world or what any of these teams and challenges and points were for. In fairness, neither did the characters at first, but as a reader going in dark, there was a lot of information and a lot of words getting you form point a to point b and it often became a bit overwhelming.

If I had a little more background or context for the worlds and the wars from the get go, so I knew a bit more of what was happening from the start, I think that would have given me a chance to take in the rest of the story a bit more, instead of constantly trying to figure out what was actually happening. As a result, I felt that it dragged a little bit in the middle and that it was a little bit too long, I definitely had some issues with pacing mid-way and had to really push myself through it.

While a lot of time was spent on the details and building up the complexities of this world, the payoff was worth it, the descriptions were rich and the action was thrilling. You really grew to know and like the characters and start to root for them. Seeing them all band together and carve their own paths for survival and sometimes even vengeance was something to cheer for. It took its time getting there and coming together for me, but things ended on a high note – an open ended high note – so we can be sure to expect a lot more where this came from.


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september 4, 2018

copy provided for honest review by