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Monday, 1 September 2014

Red Desert - People of Mars by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

Title: Red Desert - People of Mars
Author: Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli
Series: Red Desert 02
Read Type: eARC read
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You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US
You can find out more about the author on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Smashwords, and her website

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About the author

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an Italian independent author.

She lives in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy), where she works as a writer, technical, scientific and literary translator, and web copywriter. She is also a biologist and worked as researcher, tutor, and professor’s assistant in the field of ecology at the Dipartimento di Biologia Animale ed Ecologia of the University of Cagliari until 2004, when she founded Anakina Web. As part of her firm remit, she manages her creative writing and translation activities as well as Web design and music management.

A cinema addict, she started by writing screenplays and fan fictions inspired by the movies. She is author of poems (in English) published in the United States in anthologies and audiobooks and has written some song lyrics.

Between 2012–2013, she wrote a 4-book science fiction series titled Deserto rosso, which is having success in Italy. Thanks to this series, Monticelli was selected in February 2014 as one of the best ten Italian self-published authors by the Italian version of Wired magazine and was invited to be a speaker at an event during the Salone Internazionale del Libro in Turin, the most prestigious Italian book fair.

Deserto rosso is now being published in English with the title Red Desert, which is the second book of the series. The first one is Red Desert—Point of No Return. As a science fiction and Star Wars fan, she is known in the Italian online community by her nickname, Anakina.

Series Overview

Thirty years after the Mars exploration mission, Hera, whose crew died under mysterious circumstances, NASA's race to conquer space has finally begun again. This time the five members of the new Isis mission are destined to become the first colonisers of the Red Planet.

One of them is a Swedish exobiologist, Anna Persson, taking on this adventure in the hope of starting a new life away from Earth.
But Mars will have an unbelievable discovery in store for her, the key to a mystery.

But where is Anna?
In Red Planet—Point of No Return. she showed something of her past as she started a journey in a pressurised rover, reaching Valles Marineris beyond the point where life support would allow her to return to her base.

Would you like to know why Anna secretly left Station Alpha? What has happened during over 1,000 sols (almost 2 Earth years) on the Red Planet?
And most of all, what is going to happen now?


This novel switches between science, adventure, mystery, and paranoia…or is it just seeing the truth?

Red Desert—Point of No Return, showed us a lot of Anna’s past (our POV character) via flashbacks mingled in with present time as she drives her rover to a place for a reason we are not told. This novel is an interesting setup of past, present, and future of that novel, jumping around fairly randomly—and it works to well to my surprise. This novel, Red Desert—People of Mars, jumps in the same way but to a lesser extent.

Anna faces deceit, mystery, death, and uncertainty over who she can trust, including herself. She is a much more complex character than we saw in Red Desert—Point of No Return. She was a character  I could empathise with while wondering if she had taken too much radiation from the planet while living in their habitat. Her character and situations dug deep and felt filled out.

At some places in the timeline before the book Red Desert—Point of No Return happened, there were science scenes studying rock and ice that went over my head, particularly with the mentions of DNA and RNA in one scene. Nevertheless a character with less knowledge of the science would turn up or an argument over what they were looking at would ensue, making it easier for non-sciencey people like myself to understand.

The arguments and relationships between other members of the crew were occasionally confusing as it was not made clear who was supposed to be in  relationship with who. Overall however it almost gave the feel of a college dorm with to many people crammed into a small space all the time. A very realistic frustration had built among them.

I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Anna and the doctor Hassan; they were very varied in emotion leaving me uncertain as to who was the unbalanced of the pair. In places, the dialog, particularly between these two, felt a bit awkward, but I think this was because of the translating from Italian as opposed to the author’s writing skill.

The 411

I enjoyed this, particularly the payoff at the end. It had its issues and wasn’t perfect, but was a fantastic character study, and I expect people with  heavier science background would really get something more from it. I look forward to reading more from the author

I give the story a 3.5, increased to a 4 for the sake of reviewing sites
I give the translation a 3.5 because of the occasionally awkwardly worded phrases.

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