I just finished Part 1 of Aoleon The Martian Girl. For those adults who worry that kids don't get enough high level vocabulary from the books they read, here is a story that would lay that worry to rest. Words such as pincers, trajectory, affirmative, vector, hemisphere and many others are used throughout the book. And there is no need to worry about whether this is a book for girls or boys, since the title character is female and the Terran she meets and befriends is male. The story itself is funny and fast-paced, with Aoleon and Gilbert being chased by F-22 Raptors and a top-secret Aurora Interceptor before they leave Earth and travel to Aoleon's home. Even though Gilbert lives on a farm in Nebraska, he has always had an interest in space and is very open-minded about meeting an alien. It seems that young people of all planets have things in common, since Aoleon's mother calls and tells her to get home for dinner. Of course, instead of just yelling out the back door, this mother has to contact her daughter's space capsule.
Adults will notice that several of the things Gilbert says refer to popular sci-fi movies. For instance, when they reach Mars and descend into the Olympus Mons, he blurts out, "That's no volcano - that's a space station!" And when a moog (a Martian pet) tries to lick him and gets its suction-cup tongue stuck to his helmet, he says, "I just hope nothing bursts out from my chest!" There are also distinct similarities between Farmer Johnson (who owns the field in which Aoleon chooses to create her crop circle), and Edgar from "Men in Black."
The situation on Mars is tense, with the government controlling many aspects of life and trying to capture a prophet who wants to return Mars to democratic ways. We won't actually learn much about that until later in the story, but it gives the adventure some added depth. Rather than just two interplanetary friends on a joy ride, Aoleon and Gilbert are actually "chosen" to help prevent an invasion of Earth. I'm very interested to see how two kids are able to stop an evil dictator from seizing control of our planet.
The author was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the book to review.