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Side By Side Review: HELL ON MARS by J. Z. Foster and Justin M. Woodward

Hell on Mars

Reality Bleed book 1

By J.Z. Foster and Justin M. Woodward

The Mars Felicity station has gone dark. It’s been seven months since there’s been any communication. The cargo ship Perihelion has been rerouted to Mars to investigate. When they arrive on Mars, they quickly find that something terrible has happened. The scientists on Mars have played with forces that should have been left alone and now a door has opened. When the untrained and outmatched crew of the Perihelion encounter these alien monsters, they have no choice but to fight.

I absolutely loved Hell on Mars. From page 1, this book starts at full speed and never takes its foot off the gas. The action is almost constant and when we aren’t actively seeing a fight, the threat of one is right around the corner. It expertly combines the action of the game Doom with the claustrophobia and lurking dread of Event Horizon. The monsters are scary as hell and the violence is explosive and bloody. If you’re looking for an excellent sci fi horror action book, look no further.

However, despite the presence of all that action, dread, and horror, the best thing about this book is the world building and characters. This is a novella so while not everything is explained explicitly we do get a good amount of history. Hell on Mars takes place in an alternate future where we never stopped after we got to the moon, and The Cold War is still going on. We learn how technology advanced and we learn about some truly fantastic developments that don’t seem too far fetched. There is an afterword that dives into more of the world’s history and gives more background but there’s quite a bit in the story itself. Definitely enough to whet my appetite for more in this series. I also thought the characters were impressively developed for such a short book, their motivations, goals, and conflicts are distinct and believable and when they started to die, I actually cared.

I highly recommend Hell on Mars and am looking forward to the rest of the Reality Bleed series, which at the time of this writing, is four books. If a book that combines the Doom and Event Horizon with a splash of Wolfenstein interests you then you absolutely want to read this.

Matt is a middle school math teacher. He's originally from Kentucky but currently lives in Arkansas with his beautiful wife and 2-year-old son. In addition to reading dark fiction, he also enjoys board games and Disney World.

Instagram: @teamredmon
Twitter: @teamredmonreads

"A person’s dying eyes were unlike any others.”


Reality Bleed book 1, HELL ON MARS, was everything I needed and didn’t even know.  A mysterious alien plague that made its way onto a space station and wreaked havoc?, YES PLEASE!  There were so many aspects of this book that really satisfied my horror and sci-fi heart. I love when a book gives us the perspective of an infected individual as he’s succumbing to a physical/mental change.  Not only does it help me understand the mechanics behind such infection but it also breaks up the story line, and it just fascinates me.  Kudos to the authors J.Z. Foster and Justin M. Woodward for getting it right.

In this book we follow two sets of characters. The first being the individuals that are on Mars on the Felicity Station. They have been breached by aliens and have been somewhat annihilated by an alien plague. Then we have the rescue team (poor folks), aboard the Perihelion on the way to Mars. All they know is that contact has been lost with the Felicity and  they might need rescuing. Well, what they find is chaotic and disturbing to say the least.

I really don’t want to say much more due to the size of this book but just know that if you love science fiction and horror then this is THE BOOK for you.

5/5 stars

You can usually find Marcy surrounded by her husband, her daughter, and her 3 fur babies, and usually eating chips and queso.
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