The Strange

304 pages

English language

Published Dec. 19, 2023 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers.

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3 stars (1 review)

1931, New Galveston , Mars: Fourteen-year-old Anabelle Crisp sets off through the wastelands of the Strange to find Silas Mundt’s gang who have stolen her mother’s voice, destroyed her father, and left her solely with a need for vengeance.

Since Anabelle’s mother left for Earth to care for her own ailing mother, her days in New Galveston have been spent at school and her nights at her laconic father’s diner with Watson, the family Kitchen Engine and dishwasher as her only companion. When the Silence came, and communication and shipments from Earth to its colonies on Mars stopped, life seemed stuck in foreboding stasis until the night Silas Mundt and his gang attacked.

2 editions

reviewed The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud

The Strange

3 stars

The author's notes of this book pitch it as Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles meets True Grit, which I think is quite accurate. If I had to sum up the premise, it's "shitty teen blackmails local fuckup to help her recover a stolen recording of her mother through a journey across a desert filled with weird horror".

The Mars of this book feels very much like an extension of the American west. Here, the first Mars landing was in 1864, there's some wars with Germans over territory (a WW1 analog?), and folks are mining and settling Mars when this book takes place in 1931. This book doesn't concern itself with things like breathable atmosphere or domes, and instead is much more vibes-based about Martian dirt. When a spacesuit does show up it's a classic horror element rather than anything about breathable air. (In some ways this retro future conceit reminds …