Book Review: Ascension



(Phobos Sequence 1 )

Written by Victor Dixen

Translated by Daniel Hahn

488 pages

Published by Hot Key Books

Publication date: 28th June 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

‘This thrilling space odyssey will keep you turning pages late into the night.’
C. J. Daugherty, author of NIGHT SCHOOL

Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.

Watch this super-cool book trailer:

Make history with a capital H, just like they’d written on the call for applications…That’s why I’d sent in my details without  single second’s hesitation, as soon as I’d seen the ad in a free newspaper on the Paris metro: because I had no history, even with a small h, of my own. Love and all that cr*p isn’t really my cup of tea.

When you’re abandoned unconscious at the age of three in a trash can, you’re pretty well placed to understand that love doesn’t count for much.

Love has never been a part pf my life, and it’s not going to be making a surprise entrance now.

What I want is something more solid, more durable.

What I want is glory, and I know that I’m not going to get it here on Earth.

First impressions: I saw this on Readers First and clicked to read more, initially based on the cover and the fact that it looks life sci-fi, which I love. The blurb sounded interesting enough so I read the First Look, then I knew that I had to read the rest! Luckily, I won a copy in their giveaway so was able to read it soon afterwards.

It is sci-fi light, in the sense that most of the science is not explicitly explained, but I imagine this will gain readers for the book rather than put them off. Our narrator is Leonor, a French national with a complicated background. The story follows her from just before she launches into space with a one-way ticket to Mars, where she and eleven others will become the first colonists.

The catch is that they have all been chosen to make good TV rather than to be good colonists. NASA has been sold off and is now owned by a private company who are hoping to recoup the massive expense of sending a mission to Mars by broadcasting every moment, like Big Brother. To spice things up a bit, they have sent six boys and six girls and set up a dating show-style selection process where they have to choose their partner for life before arrival.

The romance aspects were, for me, the least engaging part. I was much more interested in the relationships between the girls, and the psychology looking at how each person deals with their decision to leave Earth. The format of the encounters – in weightlessness, separated by glass and watched by millions of viewers – does add a certain amount of tension, but I was more more interested in what was going on back down on Earth, where people are fraying at the edges and some people are starting to put together the pieces and realise that something is not quite right.

I inhaled this practically in one sitting – it definitely keeps you reading to find out what happens and I am now eagerly awaiting the second and third parts of this trilogy!

Today I know for certain that my real family are the people making this journey with me.

ascension cover

What I liked: A main character who is not English or American, the short chapters which went between Earth and the spaceship – this format was really effective at keeping me hooked! I liked how pieces of the puzzle were revealed a little at a time and how the pervasive sense of doom became harder and harder to ignore…

Even better if: As always, I could do without even a hint of a love triangle or insta-love. I can understand the candidates trying desperately to forge a connection with someone as they are now so far away from everything familiar, but I was much more interested in the bigger picture of a private company potentially controlling a new planet, especially as their mistakes began to come to light…

How you could use it in your classroom: This would make a great addition to any library catering for young adults. It deals with issues of self-worth, self-image and mental health, as well as the importance of forming your own opinion rather than following the crowd. It also raises lots of interesting ethical questions about the young people – are they being exploited because of the way they were selected? Should space exploration or the colonisation of a new planet be left to a private company? How about the complete lack of privacy for the 12 candidates who have, essentially, become public property, even in spaces where they were promised some dignity? (Teacher/Parent note: There is no swearing or sexual content) Definitely a series to start conversations!

(Thank you to Readersfirst and Hot Key Books for my review copy)

While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of

Thanks for reading!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. lucindablogs says:

    This looks really interesting, like Love Island in space…but better! It sounds like there’s some really interesting points raised regarding exploitation and the influence of private companies. Great review, I loved the “even better if…” paragraph and the themed picture!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I picked it up because it sounded like sci-fi, but still really enjoyed it even though it was more about the teenage relationships than the science. I will definitely be continuing with this trilogy! Hope you enjoy it if you pick up a copy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lucindablogs says:

        I might just do that. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Am I the ONLY ONE who’s never won a giveaway?? Lol! I feel like I’m always entering them!
    This book sounds FANTASTIC! I love a solid sci-fi and this one sounds really interesting! I’ll have to add it to my (ever growing) list!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Keep entering and you will get lucky one day! I have won two through Readersfirst, then you can get points by adding reviews to their website and ‘spend’ the points to get a book. I wouldn’t say that it is a very sciency sci-fi, if that makes sense. Yet, one of the things I have always loved about sci-fi is the examination if human psychology and how we behave when in faraway places, with only a thin shell of a spaceship keeping us alive. The psychology and ethics are fantastic in this!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooo, phychology and ethics, now you have me even more intruiged! And I mean that absolutely seriously! I’m looking forward to checking it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know what you think -I raced through it because I had to know what happened next!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s now on my TBR list, since I forgot to add it when I last commented (you comment on so many awesome books and forget what you wanted to read if you don’t add them right away!) so, thank you for commenting back so I didn’t forget!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear that you wil read it! Lol, I pretty much always have Goodreads open in the background to add things to my TBR and I always link to Goodreads in my reviews for others to do the same. I only joined halfway through last year and have no idea how I managed before that!

      Liked by 1 person

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