4 Star reading
I must confess a certain attraction to the inhospitable red planet ever since I saw Total Recall. The Arnie version of course. There simply is no other. As many of you know, I’ve even squeezed a mention of Mars into my very own little eco SciFi number. So I was delighted to come across this translation of Deserto Rosso. It is written in diary format from the perspective of Anna Persson, an astronaut landed on Mars together with several colleagues. Together they are hoping to set up a primary colony.
The opening is dramatic as use of the present tense and the narrator’s situation draws the reader in. The story line switches between events on Mars and flashbacks, in the past tense, in which we learn a great deal of backstory. I found these details and the relationships Anna has with other characters very engaging. I wanted to read on and in fact finished the book in only 4 sittings. Anna's complex character is well rounded and Monticelli details her motivations, actions and feelings to perfection.
Where things were not so great for me was in the large sections of didactic information about Mars itself. I understand it is necessary for these crucial facts to be there as they pinpoint the difficulties the astro-team has waiting for them on this hostile planet. However, these chunks of information felt rather stilted. This may well be due to the fact they are in translation. Writing in English is complicated enough. I can’t even begin to contemplate how difficult translating an entire novel is. But sometimes the very fact of the translation made itself evident in clumsy phrasing, overlong sentence structures and perhaps the odd word or two with questionable context. And there was also the odd proofreading issue.
Despite this I enjoyed the story very much and would certainly read the rest of the series once I’ve finished this crazy Goodreads challenge I’ve set myself. If you like SciFi and stories with great characters then this book is the right one for you.
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