Last week we announced that Wyatt Davenport’s Molly of Mars and the Alien Syndicate is our Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of our student reviews and of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category:
Molly Lennox is a typical teenager, living a typical teenage life on the planet of Mars. Her alien sister, Pirra, and her best friend, Vicky Valentine, are always ready to assist her on her latest adventure. Molly’s mother has been coming down hard on her lately and she can’t figure out why. She is on her last chance or else.But when she witnesses a kidnapping and no one believes her, her unrelenting determination and undying guilt from the alien war drive her to catch the perpetrators. She grabs her trusty stun gun and she risks everything, including her family to rescue the victims and uncover a dark Martian secret.
For ages 10+, written to a Harry Potter level of reading.
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And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
“Hello, I’m Molly of Mars.”
“Nice to meet you,” the old man said as he shook my hand. We were inside the main dining hall of the Atrocia mansion on Mars. “Do you like the music?”
“I luv it!” It was dreadful music, by the way, and frankly, the old man really didn’t care about me or what I liked. I was just a littleteenagegirl, but he was interested in kissing up to my adoptive mother, Naomi Ravenswood. She was a former spy and currently on the Martian council. These old men thought becoming my friend would help their political careers.
But I’d been to plenty of these parties, and I’d never helped any of them with anything. It wasn’t my job to put in a good word for them. My mom told me I didn’t have to listen if I didn’t want to. I took her advice quickly.
I crossed my arms. I didn’t say anything more to the old man. He moved over to the leader of Mars’s dentists and left me alone. I was thankful.
“Stand up straight and be nice,” Pirra said. She was standing beside me. “Mr. Donner is the head of a huge accounting firm on Mars.”
“You know him?” I asked.
“No,” Pirra said, and tapped her chest. “His name tag said, EugeneDonner, CEOofDonnerAccounting. I told you to pay attention to details.”
I shot her a glare. “I’m doing my best not to freak out.”
“If it isn’t the Ravenswood sisters.” Conrad Crawley walked up to us. He was the head of Giga Corp, the biggest corporation on Mars, and Mr. Crawley was the richest man in the solar system, with the largest fleet of spaceships.
“Mr. Crawley, we’re the Lennox sisters. Adopted, remember?” I replied, stepping closer to Pirra. “I’m surprised to see you at this party. One that benefits science.”
“If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I was talking to your mother,” Crawley replied. “Her contempt for my apparent bad behavior holds just as much underlying wrath.”
“The Martian Fun Land was one of my favorite places on Mars.” I turned my nose up at him, not wanting him to think he could charm me. I saw through his deceitful words. His recent acquisition of the land near my home, Acadia City, had closed down Vicky Valentine’s family theme park. It was a big loss for one of my best friends. “You bought it for no reason. You have all of space to make your ships. It’s infinite.”
Crawley leaned in closer to me, clearly annoyed. I was proud of myself for irking him. “I don’t have to explain business to a little girl, but you can tell your friend that I closed the park so other parents could have jobs.”
“At the cost to my best friend, Vicky. You gave her family half the value that land was worth. People lost jobs there. So I don’t see how your reasoning works.”
“The Valentines were given what the court mandated.”
“My mom says you control the court.”
Crawley’s angry eyes shot lasers through me. “I’m a good Martian citizen. I pay my taxes, and I contribute to charities.”
“I heard you only pay a fraction of the taxes other people pay, and your charity donations are for massive tax breaks. Don’t try to fool me. I’m not some dumb kid.”
I wasn’t dumb, but I didn’t entirely understand taxes. I knew my mom paid them, and I’d heard complaints about how the rich only paid a little because they could afford to control the laws. I didn’t think it was fair.
“Molly of Mars,” Crawley kidded. “Isn’t that your hero name?”
“Yeah, so what?”
Crawley put his hand on Pirra’s shoulder. “You should behave more like your sister. So elegant, so controlled, and so beautiful.”
Pirra twisted away from Crawley. He was always pawing at her because of her specialness.
“Hello, Mr. Crawley,” Pirra said. “How’re you today?”
“Your manners are progressing,” he said. “No more pulling up a chair at the buffet table.”
Pirra blushed in embarrassment. “I understand now, sir.”
Crawley smiled, showing his gnarly teeth. “I knew you’d adjust to our culture on Mars.”
Pirra shifted uncomfortably. With the odd gleam in Crawley’s eyes, I didn’t blame her. He was fascinated with her, like most people on Mars. “I’m trying,” she said.
“Mr. Crawley,” Galen Atrocia said. He was the father of Aston Atrocia, the host of the party. He was older, and the Atrocia fortune had been built on the company he’d founded years ago. “I’ll save Molly of Mars and Pirra from any more arguments.”
Crawley seemed annoyed. His face tightened at the comment. “I’m able to handle a couple of girls, Galen.”
“Doing a bang-up job of entertaining us,” I muttered, but they ignored me.
“Could you meet these two scientists?” Galen Atrocia asked. “They work on the air processing plants on Mars. Brilliant men.”
“Excuse me, girls. A pleasure as usual,” Crawley said sarcastically. “Another opportunity for Mega Corp awaits.”
“Wouldn’t want to miss making another buck,” I muttered as he walked away.
“Be nice,” Pirra said.
“Pirra, I’m bored, and he did hurt Vicky’s family,” I complained, kicking my foot against the hardwood floors. “I can’t stand those rich types stepping on everyone. You didn’t see Vicky cry when they shut down the park.”
“I did . . . later. She’s my friend, too, and I’m not blind to the way Mars works. Remember, grace isn’t a cover for ignorance. It breeds control and respect.”
Pirra kept her rigid poise as she practiced enjoying the party. She was my sister, but we were unrelated. We shared a room in our new mom’s apartment in Acadia City, Mars. I loved her to death. However, she did have one annoying habit that I hated. She was always making me look bad because she always told the complete truth.
Now, telling the truth is important, but sometimes when it didn’t matter, she found a way to admit more than was necessary. Like the time when Naomi asked what happened at school. Pirra proceeded to tell the story about how I got into a fight with some of the girls. All she had to say was that we went to classes and talked to friends, which would’ve been a perfectly honest story to tell. Not for Pirra.
I shook another person’s hand, ignoring completely what he or she said. They moved on.
“Molly,” Pirra said, continuing her rant, “we’ve been over this a million times. Mom needs us at these parties so she can help Mars. She’s on the council. She talks to the president. She’s important, and we’re doing our part.”
“We’re doing our part?” I tilted my head at her. “You’ve been watching too many of the president’s commercials about Martian loyalty.”
“Don’t tell me you buy into the baloney about us helping Mars. We’re at a party with a bunch of rich snobs. I would rather be doing laps at the hoverboard park.”
“Our duty is here. Stand up straight.”
I pretended to care for a second to stop the lecture. She could be so difficult, especially when she was following orders from Naomi. “You aren’t a Sephian warrior anymore.”
Pirra raised her chin with pride. “I still carry its nobility and honor of my people.”
Pirra was a former child warrior from another solar system. Yes, Pirra was a teenager like me, but she was an alien girl. She wasn’t human but rather was called a Sephian. Well, she was sorta Sephian. She wanted to be human now.
She was the only one we knew about, and she looked entirely human. She had black hair and big green eyes. And she was very beautiful. My gosh, she was beautiful, with the most annoyingly perfect beauty mark above her left lip. I’d climb the highest mountain on Mars for an ounce of her looks.
She always had a flower, beads, or some sort of decoration in her hair. A custom from her alien past—one of the few she still followed. Three daisies lined either side of her head this evening.
“Nobility is practiced.” Her head moved back and forth as she posed like a rigid soldier.
I laughed at her because she had no idea how funny she was being.
“Nobility and honor.” She tucked her arms against her sides and did a trot.
I laughed again. Maybe she was being a clown on purpose. “Stop it. I don’t care about nobility when it comes to these parties.” I leaned back on the table. “And Naomi told you to be less rigid. You aren’t fighting any more battles. Remember when the war ended, everyone ordered you to be a normal child. I was told to enforce it.”
Pirra scoffed. “Crawley complimented me on being more human. I think I should just keep the same path.”
I rolled my eyes. “A Crawley endorsement makes me wonder where I went so wrong in teaching you about being human.”
“Funny,” said Pirra and stuck her tongue out at me. “Mom wasn’t referring to events like these. We should be on our best behavior.”
“Pirra,” I replied and pressed my curly, blondish-red hair against my head. My fair hair had always grown wild. Controlling it was harder than controlling my impulse to avoid boredom. When I looked at Pirra with her perfectly straight feathered style, her beauty always made me self-conscious. I shifted a bit as I thought about it.
“Relax, be a kid,” I said to her. “You need to sit like this. Put your butt against the table and relax. Your back is going to lock if you’re any more rigid.”
“I’m not going to sit like a slob. Like the lunchroom cool kids.”
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s talk about eating. You don’t have to eat everything with utensils. Your fingers work best for some things.”
Again, Pirra stuck her nose up at me. “It’s more refined to eat with a fork and knife. Miss Manners—”
“Not that book again. They call it finger food for a reason. Like earlier, you tried to eat crackers and cheese with a fork.”
“And I did,” she said proudly.
“Hardly. You scooped the cracker up on the fork with the concentration of an eagle spotting its prey.” I raised my hand, shaking it as she had. “Jittering hands, as if you’re mixing a can of paint, and then you slowly pull it up to your mouth. Total time, two minutes.”
“Did I spill? Did the cheese fall?”
“Ahh. Ahh. Ahh.” With my mouth open, I mocked her concentration in trying to get the cracker on the fork up to her mouth. “So refined. So graceful.”
“Oh, shut up.” Pirra laughed. “I wasn’t that bad. I do fun things.”
“I know,” I replied. “But guys like Crawley see you as an alien. He said what he said with contempt. I don’t want that, because Mars has a history of being scared of those who are different. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”
She nodded. “I understand. So I should sit back with my back less rigid. Like I’m tired.”
“Sorta,” I instructed her. “But don’t make it sound so lame. It’s just relaxing and not taking everything so seriously.”
Pirra nervously shifted her feet. “I’d hate to disappoint Mom. The party is going so well.”
“You won’t. She wants you to be a kid and probably wishes you got into trouble.”
Pirra shifted again. I knew she was conflicted, and I also knew she’d give in.
“Like this,” she said, leaning back.
“Lean back more and slacken your back.”
“Oh, this.” With a jump, she sat with almost all of her weight on the tabletop of food and drinks. The table buckled instantly, and everything crashed to the floor, including Pirra. The rattling of metal trays and lids echoed through the room.
I looked into the crowd. The music screeched to a halt, and everyone’s eyes turned to look at a soaked Pirra on the floor. Food was everywhere. Pirra froze in fear or embarrassment. I snickered a bit at the jelly that was jiggling on her butt.
As the eyes in the room grew larger over us, I realized that I needed to save my sister.
I put my hands over my cheeks. “Out of nowhere, the table just collapsed!”
“I’m so sorry,” said a butler for the Atrocia estate, who had come rushing over. He handed Pirra a towel.
“A towel is not going to be enough,” I snarled at the butler. He hadn’t done anything wrong, but Pirra and I needed to make our escape with the least embarrassment possible.
“Of course,” said Mr. Aston Atrocia, the host of the party, as he hurried up to us. His two nasty children, Aiden and Aubrey Atrocia, were snickering from behind him. “Show Pirra to the twins’ bathroom so she can clean up.”
“Not our bathroom,” Aiden said. “She’ll make it dirty.”
Aiden and Aubrey went to the same school as Pirra and me, except they were in the advanced classes. Pirra and I were in the applied kids’ classes, and everyone in the other classes picked on the dumb kids. And for whatever reason, the twins seemed to like picking on Pirra and me the most.
“Don’t say that,” Mr. Atrocia replied to Aiden. “Show them to your bathroom.”
“Fine,” Aiden replied. “Aubrey, go find the hose.”
“Aiden!” Mr. Atrocia scolded him. He pointed down the hallway. “Show them.”
“What happened here?” Naomi, our mother, demanded as she walked up, looking directly at me. She was about to blame me for something. “Molly, what did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything!” I shouted, not entirely honest. “The table just fell.”
“Pirra.” My mom tied back her blond hair as she did when she was about to blame me for something. “Is that true?”
“The table did fall,” Pirra replied as she got to her feet.
“With Molly’s help?” Naomi led her on.
I hated when she did that. My adoptive mother always wanted to find something I did wrong.
“I didn’t do anything,” I snapped. My mom’s blue eyes flared, and her tall statue hovered over me. But I continued without intimidation. “Pirra did it herself. Stop trying to get me in trouble. I came to this stupid party so you could look good in front of your friends. So you could show off the orphan you rescued and the alien you saved.”
She was about to speak, but I was beyond angry and could not listen to another lecture from her. It seemed to be her favorite hobby. Without listening further, I stormed down the hallway toward the bathroom. Tears were welling up in my eyes by the time I reached the door, but no one else saw them. I’d never let that happen.