Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

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Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: A brutal, emotionally charged science fiction epic, featuring a well-developed cast of characters, intense action scenes and an intriguing plot.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 494 Date: July 2019
Publisher: Amazon
ISBN: 978-1949272017

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After his entire family is killed in a shuttle crash, one that he was piloting no less, Aaron Sheridan enlists in the Martian Fleet, fully expecting to die in the ongoing Rim War. Instead, he winds up on Corinth Station, the Fleet's command school. At first, he is apathetic towards the brutality and scheming of the students and staff, but after standing up for his only friend, he becomes a target for the dreaded Caelus Erik, the most feared cadet on Corinth. Scared that any further actions will put others on his flight team at risk, Aaron shuts himself off from everyone. But, when he discovers that the staff on Corinth have a motive other than training officers, he begins to realise that risking his all might be the safest thing he can do...

Having reviewed Graves's previous book, and being thoroughly depressed by it, I was initially a little apprehensive about picking up this one. However, I was pleased to discover that this book was in fact very enjoyable and a lot less taxing than the previous one. Aaron is a lot more sympathetic and relatable than Dorian, and the setting even addresses how the AIs and nanomachines ubiquitous in Sunlight might be limited in the future, thereby averting the book's tragic ending.

The characters in the book are interesting. Our protagonist and narrator is Aaron Sheridan, a cadet recently deployed to Corinth Station. His only friend for now is Sebastian, a shy young man who happens to be a tactical genius. They are sucked into the cutthroat world of Corinth Station's politics, where various factions of students wage covert warfare against each other. On the one hand, there is a faction of students led by Brandon and Pierre, who initially befriend Aaron after warning him about an attempt on his life. They are fighting against their resident Student Officer Caelus Erik, a master manipulator and schemer, and his attack dog Lieutenant Taryn Miller. Aaron is torn between the two sides, since neither of them seem particularly trustworthy. The characters are, overall, very well-developed and show how people adapt to brutal conditions like those on Corinth Station.

The setting is very well thought out. Humanity has spread out across the galaxy, forming the Confederation, a military and economic alliance that is currently fighting against a parasitic alien race known as the Verex. As you can probably infer from the title, Mars has been successfully terraformed, while Earth is implied to be undergoing severe desertification. The Martian government uses what is known as Mylan Chips, small devices which have the ability to read the thoughts of the person they are implanted in and transmit them back to the government if they show any signs of innovation. However, interference from the nebula that Corinth Station is located in prevents the chips from working. There is definitely something sinister going on in Corinth, given the sheer negligence displayed by the command staff (students do get severely injured and die fairly frequently, and the higher-ups barely raise an eyebrow at it), as well as the large number of top scientists stationed there.

Overall, this is an intense, brutal science fiction story featuring an interesting cast of characters and an intriguing plot.

Similar books by other authors:
Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves – the author's previous work.
Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card – a similar sci-fi series about teenagers in wars against an alien race.

Booklists.jpg Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves is in the Top Ten Self-Published Books 2019.
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Buy Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves at


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