Good Storyline and Excellent Artwork Lift a Text in Need of an Editor
Aoléon The Martian Girl Part One: First Contact
by Brent LeVasseur
Series: Aoléon The Martian Girl (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 31, 2015
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Crop circles magically appear in Farmer Johnson’s field. A mysterious light sweeps over the night sky and awakens Farmer Johnson and Gilbert, the boy next door.
Curious, Gilbert ventures out to discover the source of the light and stumbles into a beautiful Martian girl sitting in a crop circle. Farmer Johnson also investigates the strange light, and thinking that Gilbert and Aoléon are vandals, he chases them. But they sprint to Aoléon’s saucer and escape only to be pursued by the U.S. Air Force.
This may be the adventure Gilbert always wished for. If only he can survive.
Since the publication in 1895 of Percival Lowell’s Mars, wherein the astronomer suggested that the so-called ‘canals’ on that planet were proof that an ancient race had once inhabited the barren world, tales of Martians have abounded. Whether through comics, books, television, or movies, a child’s first exposure to science fiction often involved a journey to or a visitor from Mars. Even today, long after science has ended such speculation, conspiracy theorists accuse NASA of covering up or ignoring evidence of a past civilization on the red planet. Clearly, we Earthlings have a remarkable and unshakable obsession with our near neighbor, and through his Aoléon The Martian Girl series, Brent LeVasseur has found a unique way to mine that fascination.
Aoléon The Martian Girl Part One: First Contact is, stylistically, a blend of the earliest Martian-themed comics and novels, where there is just enough genuine science to sustain the pseudo-science, but where fantasy rules above all else. Lowell would be happy to know that LeVasseur’s Mars is replete with life, including a megalopolis containing thousands of buildings above which zoom hundreds of flying saucers. And like much of that early literature, we eventually discover that an invasion of Earth is in the works.
There is humor throughout the book, the best of it being of the subtle variety: Farmer Johnson’s dog, Tripod, used to be called Oscar until he lost a leg. (How confusing that must have been for Oscar!) Most, however, is slapstick: a chicken leg falls into a teacup; a Ferris wheel rolls down the street; the bumbling President’s bathrobe falls off exposing his underwear; and so on.
Aoléon, our Martian girl, is as winning as she is cute — gentle, confident, intelligent, bubbly, fashionable(!), and very not-of-this-world. Her personality unfolds quickly, with her first word: “Woooeee!” — the giggling climax of a thrilling joyride she was taking through the galaxy in her sports car of a spaceship. Gilbert, the lucky Nebraskan farm boy and would-be astronomer who meets Aoléon, has already embraced the notion of alien life and longs to be rescued from a less-than-perfect home environment by “an angel”. He, too, is easy to like: It takes him no time to accept the big-eyed, blue-skinned girl and the mind-boggling situation, and he proceeds to ask the right questions without sounding like the stereotype of a, well — Nebraskan farm boy.
On the down side, LeVasseur’s plot, which is generally fun to follow, is nonetheless sometimes muddled — On page 64, Aoléon’s ship is said to have entered the Martian atmosphere; a dozen pages later, we find the ship has actually yet to reach Mars. — and his writing is now and then clumsy or uninspired. For instance, in one scene we are told our hero “crept” in three consecutive paragraphs; later, Gilbert first gathers his courage, then a short page afterwards, does so again; still later, we read the redundant “portal entrance”. He never manages to establish a cohesive style, and his prose needs a good tightening (“Floating transparent images…appeared to hover…” might read better as “Transparent images…hovered…”) and a more varied choice of words (“…controlling the ship without touching any controls. It must be mind control…”). Interestingly, though, he seems at home with complicated scientific jargon, and more than once snags a little magic in a fluid description: “An incredibly powerful plasma-induced gravimetric force field surrounded the ship, so intense that it flared pulses of circular, glowing rainbows, creating a parhelion effect around the craft.” That is not an easy image to paint with words, yet LeVasseur pulls it off admirably. And while we’re here, the author’s frequent use of technical terms, such as gravimetric and parhelion, will offer a challenge to young readers. Those who accept and pull out their dictionaries will expand their vocabulary and their bank of scientific knowledge. (A glossary in the back of the book is helpful but incomplete.)
For readers unwilling to break the mood and dive into a reference book, LeVasseur brings his story to life with his 3D paintbrush. And it is those illustrations that are the real stars of this cosmic show. Not quite like anything else in kids literature today, they’re bold and bright, with vivid colors, and a welcome amateurish quality about them — a retro feel, as though they’d been created for a 90s video game. Occasionally, as with that of Aoléon healing Tripod, proportions and perspective are off, and a given picture has less appeal. The bulk of the artwork, however, is excellent, especially the action images in space, like that of Aoléon’s saucer shimmering past the rings of Saturn, or the one of our heroes soaring over the Martian megalopolis. Overall, there’s an otherworldliness about LeVasseur’s art that nicely reflects and elevates the text, as if the magic missing from the prose found its way into the illustrations.
— Jennifer Michelle
3 of 5 Hearts. Good Storyline and Excellent Artwork Lift a Text in Need of an Editor.
Aoléon The Martian Girl Part One: First Contact is the first entry in a five-part series. Though the writing is less than stellar, the text is saved by the accompanying 3D images and a fast-paced plot. Consider this a good choice for young, reluctant readers of both genders, being the type of book that generously feeds one’s imagination while vigorously exercising one’s suspension of disbelief.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank iRead Book Tours and Aoléon Press for allowing me access to this title in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”