Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson

Last Day on Mars by Kevin EmersonLast Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson
Series: Chronicle of the Dark Star #1
Published by HarperCollins on February 14, 2017
Pages: 336
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It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova far sooner than anyone expected. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we have prepared for a second trip: a 150-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.

Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed.
Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a dangerous struggle for survival.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Last Day on Mars is an action-packed story that will keep you on your toes until the very last page. Emerson crafts the start of a great new series.

I like to think of Last Day on Mars as The Martian meets Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse TV show) for the middle-grade set. Liam and Phoebe’s parents work on science that’s supposed to help terraform Aaru-5, humanity’s new home, but sabotage puts Liam, Phoebe, and all of humanity in danger.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think that this book would make a great Disney Channel film. The setting and characters and story are so vivid. I saw the story play out like a movie in my mind. Ultimately, I think Last Day on Mars is a great book to get kids thinking imaginatively about science and science fiction. It’s full of space, aliens, time travel, mystery, sabotage, explosions, spaceships, and more. So much fun!

Liam is a brave, trusting character with a lot of heart. I enjoyed reading about his relationship with his older sister. The homing beacon idea is cute and really solidified the fact that not all siblings hate each other, which I see all too often in middle-grade fiction.  I also enjoyed the fact that there are parents around–absent, yes–but they are around and will be in future books. The “missing parents” trope gets old, and Emerson finds a creative way to get around that.

I also enjoyed Liam and Phoebe’s relationship. They really are best friends, though I can see it becoming rocky in future books based on the story. No spoilers. 🙂

Last Day on Mars is a suspenseful, action-packed read that will keep readers on their toes from page one until the end. The setting is vivid, the science-fiction elements are intriguing, and there’s more than enough excitement to launch readers through the book in no time. Plus, all the unanswered questions will have readers clambering for the next book in the series.

I’d say Last Day on Mars is for ages nine and up, though I think younger advanced readers will enjoy it too. And so will parents.


A must-buy for kids and parents who love science and science fiction. Last Day on Mars is the start of a great new series.


© 2017, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.