Vol 4: A Frenchman on Mars
Seraphin and his aethership make it to Mars and find a world teeming with strange life forms and weird versions of aetherite that solidify after you walk through a seeming puddle. Searching for the previous Prussian expedition turns up no survivors, including Seraphin’s father. But Gubbard reveals the true nastiness of his plan to get Seraphin and the others to agree to go to Mars in the first place, and it is steeped in deception! Seraphin is wounded and wakes up abandoned by his fellows. He stumbles upon what he thinks is a winged beast, badly injured, but still he feels the need to save the creature from being a feast to other beasts. The creature ends up being a prominent figure in a fractured Martian society, one half dying out, the other exiled to the desert.
Mars is a beautifully imagined world that readers can dive into if they just suspend disbelief and let themselves be engrossed by Alice’s illustrations. There is also a poignant criticism on the pitfalls of exploration - after discovery comes exploitation - and it is a sentiment that rings true throughout history. Alice once again leaves us with a stupendous cliffhanger, and the translation of volume five is not even on the horizon yet.
Alice's watercolors continue to be absolutely stunning, especially now that we have gotten to the rich environment on Mars. The Martian beings are beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 5-8
Reviews of previous volumes in the series: vol 1, vol 2, vol 3
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
ISBN: 9781250206817 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Graphic Fiction, Steampunk, Action Adventure, Family, First Second
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