Friday, July 15, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: DEBBI (Helen of Mars, #0.5) / George Ebey

TITLE: DEBBI (Helen of Mars, #0.5)
AUTHOR: George Ebey
PUBLISHER: Glass House Press
AVAILABILITY: Barnes & Noble

Young Adult - Science Fiction

In the not-so-distant future, gamer girl and engineering prodigy Helen Hunter enters a prestigious battle bot competition sponsored MARSCORP, a company that sends rovers to mine Mars. Except she's not just doing it for the thrill of it. MARSCORP has grown notorious for making lots of money off the dreams of would-be Mars explorers--by selling them expensive equipment and whatnot then taking a cut of their revenues in exchange for giving them a chance to profit from Mars' rich ore deposits. In that sense, they're rather like scammy, leeching self-publishing outfits (*cough* Author Solutions *cough*) that reap unscrupulous profits off the dreams of authors with their overpriced and often terrible services. Sorry for getting a little off-topic... Just wanted to show y'all how evil this bad-guy corporation is ;-).

Anyway, Helen's dad, certain that his knowledge of geography will give him an edge over the competition, is determined to send a rover to Mars despite the financial risks. Helen, a practical and mature teen, fears that his ambition will lead their family to ruin. And so she enters the competition in hopes of winning the grand prize: a free Mars rover that will let her dad chase his dream without possibly losing the house.

DEBBI is Helen's bot, which she built herself and controls with the help of her fellow gamer girl and BFF, Misty. This novella is a short, fun little read full of robot battles and nerdy references... catnip for a nerdy gal like me! And can I just say, how awesome is it to see an unapologetically nerdy teen girl as the heroine of her own story? STEM girls rule!

Brave New Girls cover
Okay, disclosure time. Not only do George and I share a publisher (Glass House Press), but I was also a huge fan of Helen going in. The first story starring Helen (which actually takes place after DEBBI), titled Helen of Mars, was one of the shorts in the anthology I co-edited, BRAVE NEW GIRLS: TALES OF GIRLS AND GADGETS (we donate all proceeds from sales to the Society of Women Engineers' scholarship fund, so if you want to find out what happens to Helen next and support a good cause... *hint hint nudge nudge*). Does this make me biased? Well, I'm always going to be biased toward stories featuring smart, independent heroines, especially STEM-y ones, so...
Helen of Mars illustration

Back to DEBBI! In this little novella, George Ebey paints an awesome near-future sci-fi world. The concept feels like something that could actually happen... dare I call this hard sci-fi? The robot battles are really fun to read, full of detail and action and strategy and some amazing visuals. Helen's the kind of character you eagerly root for. She's bright and determined, and though she's somewhat shy, she doesn't take crap from anyone. So if you like girl engineers and robot battles, you should totally check this one out!

George Ebey is the author of the forthcoming Phoenix Saga, a series of fantasy adventure tales for young readers soon to be published by Glass House Press.

Prior to turning to the world of Middle Grade and Young Adult adventure, he got his start by writing works of mystery and suspense. Ebey’s previous titles include: Broken Clock; The Red Bag; Dimensions: Tales of Suspense; and Widowfield.

These days he’s proud to be an author with Glass House Press as well a contributor to the International Thriller Writer’s online webzine,The Big Thrill.

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