Six boys and six girls aged between 17 and 20. One spaceship. One mission. They are being sent to Mars in order to colonize the red planet and go down in history as real space pioneers. Still, in order to fund the whole operation their mission is turned into one big international TV show – think futuristic Big Brother, with cameras in every room and constant drama surrounding who will end up with whom. Because yes, the magnificent twelve are dating constantly for six minutes at a time. They are supposed to get married as soon as they land on Mars. The sponsors and ordinary people alike are invited to send text messages and fund the future happiness of their chosen ones – nothing is free of charge, not even on Mars. Fun, romance, adventure and space conquest – what can be more telegenic and profitable?
Perhaps a bit of drama. Or a bit of mystery. Or both. Because every participant has their own past and secrets and they are hardly willing to reveal those in front of cameras.
I grant it – Phobos was a, short, fun, mindless read and had a lot of potential. Still every good feature it possessed was wasted even before the first half of the book was over. It is not a long book, mind you. In my opinion the author let the cat out of the bag too early, spoiling for me the pleasure up to a point. Yes, I mean here the fact that I knew about the secret agenda of ugly, greedy Serena McBee, one of the coordinators of the Mars mission, way before the narrative hit the middle point. The woman not only stole champagne from her mignons but also sent them to almost sure death and made me very disappointed.
Very superficial characterization was my other, more serious problem. The novel is supposed to show you 12 young people from all parts of the world, from countries as different as Canada, China, France, USA, Germany and Brazil. Still for most of the time I had an impression I was dealing with just six Barbie and six Ken dolls who understood themselves only too well because, let’s face it, despite different hair colours and skin tones they came from the same factory. The emphasis was put on the most shallow of interactions concerning just the physical attraction between a bunch of inexperienced girls and boys barely out of their teens (or in their late teens). Add to it wooden, silly dialogues out of your average soap opera and you have the full extend of my dissatisfaction.
One good thing: the book was written in French and hasn’t been translated into English yet. :). Let it stay this way. Plus the cover art is really good.
Typical YA fare: it started ok but soon turned into mindless entertainment. Only for die-hard fans of the genre. Pour moi, il est trop tard pour regretter et non, je ne regrette rien tout de meme (it’s too late for me to regret anything and no, I don’t regret anything anyway) but you are forewarned. MEH royale, monsieur Dixen.