On Mars, various organizations and colonies have risen, their ultimate goal to get back to Earth, or Hinun. Thus far, the strongest faction has been a militaristic group, called Marscorp,that uses psychics to show them how to defeat and absorb rival colonies. Alliance is not an option. It is within this milieu that Ian Connors, a growing psychic, discovers the love of his life via visions. The problem? She's on the enemy's side. In his quest to find her, Ian comes face to face with the brutality of war and is forced to make a choice: to save lives or to destroy them.
Vallar is a fast-paced tale, designed for the young adult reader. It is good about playing to one's sense of righteous indignation and the frustration of being ignored and misunderstood. While the forces at work are portrayed in a very uncompromising light (Beacon = evil, Vallar = good), this is the sort of black-and-white worldview that caters to adolescents, even if it doesn't challenge them. In that sense, Ian's limited emotional range is appropriate for the novel, though older readers might crave a little more depth. As for me, I can let it go; my major issue is one common with young adult fiction: the bizarre suddenness with which characters fall in love. In some cases, authors are able to present enough chemistry to make it believable. Unfortunately, that was not the case here.
Incredulity aside, I found this story to be quite diverting. I was quickly pulled into Ian's struggles and shared in his sense of impotence as the adults around him ignored his prognostications. It's a tale as old as time (see Cassandra and the Trojan Horse), but it still rang true and helped me to connect with the character. This, in turn, made his obstacles, triumphs, and failures my own. I wanted him to succeed, just as much as I wanted Beacon to receive his just desserts. In other words, the author successfully made me care about her protagonist and this fictional world.
One of the things that did draw my attention away from the story at hand was the plethora of typographical and grammatical errors. Were my copy a paperback, rather than an e-book, I may have been compelled to whip out a red pen to underline and circle my way along. As it stands, this is definitely not the worst that I've seen, but it was irritating all the same. Some critical proofreading would have benefited this work greatly.
Vallar is an easy, entertaining read for those looking for a quick read and conflicts with clearly drawn lines. For those who prefer subtle nuances and strong character development, this may not be the best fit.
(Review copy provided by the author)