Don’t miss this 2016 sci-fi novel. Whoa. This is that science fiction book that really jumps the shark, but does so with such great style and atmosphere you can’t help but get swept away. Imagine Isaac Newton didn’t see an apple fall from the tree, but instead, saw a bubble rise through the water, thus bringing about a space exploration revolution to humanity and throttling us centuries ahead of the history we know today. In Arabella of Mars, in true Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs fashion, humanity has colonized on Mars by 1812 and currently harvest profitable plantations at the hands of British overseers . . . with the assistance of Martians, of course.

If you are still reading, good.

Because what kicks this book into high-gear is the incredible fish-out-of-water story as we follow Arabella, a human girl who has grown up her whole life with other humans on Mars and is now traveling back to Earth to experience London – an exotic world of “proper” ladies (whatever those are), strange clothing, flying aircraft, and underwater travel. The author does a great job of fleshing out the world by adding in historically accurate issues of the time like colonialism and race, Napoleon, and a good dose of that elaborate Regency-style of the 18th Century. There’s romance, spirited dialogue, and resourceful, likeable female characters. Truly an ambitious first novel by Levine, and one not to be missed by people who like to try books that are “a little out there.”

If this sounds interesting, you may also like The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers or The Mechanical by Iean Tregillis.

Recommended by Matthew Lowder

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