This book was a pure joy to listen to. I enjoyed every minute of it. Paper Forest was the perfect character to lead me through this near future scifi tale. She’s blessed with caring family & friends even as she grows up in one of the poorest areas, working in a giant landfill. She and her sisters (Rock and Scissors, and yes, they are triplets) each have different talents and Paper’s is her fascination with rockets and Mars. This causes several model rocket mishaps, much to Duggie’s amusement (Paper’s best friend). Everyone in the Fill watches the game show You’re Going To Mars, the entertainment child of trillionaire Zach Larson.
Then a magical thing happens. People have conspired to get Paper on that show because they believe in her, love her, and want a champion of the Fill. The Gitanos, a ruthless family that owns and runs the Fills around the world, have near-slavery multi-generational contracts with the inhabitants of the Fills. The horrible living and working conditions are unknown to outsiders.
There is so much well placed humor in this story. Sometimes it’s used to lighten a moment, sometimes just to give some snark, and then sometimes to make a serious point. Paper is great with her snark. It’s just the right amount and I never got tired of hearing her thoughts on everything.
The other contestants on the show were fun too. Aurora stands out because of all her sass but also because she’s both needy and distrusting all at the same time. She’s one of those celebrity stars known for her music and not her math or engineering skills. The real astronauts that have been training for years for this Mars trip aren’t too thrilled about taking along some bratty contestant winner, whoever that turns out to be. Astronaut Dan Daniels sure isn’t happy and he lets everyone know it.
The suspense winds up and one contestant after another is dropped from the competition. I loved that it wasn’t a bad thing for everyone (in fact someone wins a pet store! Ha! What a consolation prize!). There’s also more humor as the would be astronauts learn about astronaut life, like all those close living arrangements…. when you are doing everything. I mean everything!
Paper has some scary moments but I love how Jane does her best again and again to keep Paper in the game. The Gitanos are just one hurdle. There are others that don’t want a private organization successfully setting down on Mars. Perhaps there is something there we don’t expect after all.
This story gave me one fist-bump moment after another. I was verbally cheering Paper on at times, much to the amusement of people around me. You go Paper! The ending has a few sad moments and some great want to the hug everyone moments. Honestly, this has been one my favorite books for the year. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: Khristine Hvam did an amazing job. She is Paper Forest. I also applaud her ability to make all three sisters sound closely related but to also give each a distinct voice, mostly through attitude. Her male voices are spot on too. She had the perfect older male voice for Zach Larson. Her sass for Aurora was just as I pictured it. The recording quality was top notch. Excellent all around. 5/5 stars.