This book was just enormously fun - a bit like if Dodie Smith (of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE) had decided to write a rollicking science fiction adventure set on Mars. There are definite resonances with WWII child evacuees, but in this case, the war is against invading aliens, and the kids are being evacuated all the way off-planet to Mars (which is in the process of being terraformed). The voice of the heroine, Alice, is just absolutely fabulous, all the characters are wonderful (and ethnically diverse!), and the adventure is fast-paced and really fun.
The only thing that occasionally niggled at me was that I didn't personally buy that they were (mostly) twelve-year-olds - I thought the heroine and her best friend felt more like fourteen-year-olds than twelve-year-olds, and the tone of the book felt more like a young YA novel to me (like John Scalzi's ZOE'S TALE) than an upper-MG. That's just a shelf-classification issue, though, nothing that ever got in the way of the story or how much I loved the characters. I really hope that there's a sequel!
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