A Rover’s Story

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Oct. 2022. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063113923.
Gr 3-5–A fictional Mars Rover narrates its own journey from the robotics lab to the Red Planet. When two scientists, Rania and Xander, build a Mars rover named Resilience, neither are aware that it is paying attention to every detail. Through journal-style updates, interspersed with letters from Rania’s daughter Sophie, Resilience meets robotic and human colleagues, survives a battery of tests, and travels millions of miles into outer space, all experienced through an emotional humanistic lens. The format of brief journal entries and letters is engagingly readable for even reluctant readers, and the humorous interactions between robots and machines keep the science-heavy story moving at a reasonable pace. Readers learn about becoming a Mars rover as Resilience does, turning into the expert as Resilience further learns how to be human. Warga’s character development is consistent with human and nonhuman figures, particularly Rania and Sophie; their Arabic language and culture weave smoothly throughout the story and elevate the reading experience. Rania’s very real challenges of being a working wife and mother in a male-dominated field round out an authentic, modern text. The arc of the story travels into the future for a happy ending that sacrifices realism for sweetness, but the overall experience is quite satisfying.
VERDICT A fresh format and timely topic engage readers in this uplifting and deeply human sci-fi story.

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