Title: The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
Author: Sheela Chari
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Based on the Peabody Award-winning podcast, this tech-filled adventure series pits intrepid Mars Patel and his outcast friends against a brilliant, enigmatic billionaire as they race to figure out why kids are disappearing from their school.
Mars Patel’s friend Aurora has disappeared! His teachers are clueless. His mom is stressed out about her jobs. But Mars refuses to give up–after all, his own dad disappeared when Mars was a toddler, before he and Ma moved to Puget Sound from India. Luckily, Mars has a group of loyal friends eager to help–smart Toothpick, strong and stylish JP, and maybe-telepathic Caddie. The clues seem to point toward eccentric tech genius (and Mars’s hero) Oliver Pruitt, whose popular podcast now seems to be commenting on their quest! But when the friends investigate Pruitt’s mysterious, elite school, nothing is as it seems–and anyone could be deceiving them. Slick science, corporate conspiracies, and an endearingly nerdy protagonist make this a fresh, exciting sci-fi adventure.
Mars Patel and his friends are brilliant but also outcasts at school. They are constantly correcting teachers and things around school, which lands them in detention. One of their friends has been missing for days, but no one is really worried about it. When another friend disappears suddenly, Mars knows something is wrong. Everything seems to be connected to Pruitt Prep, an elite school which accepts gifted students. Mars is obsessed with the podcast that Oliver Pruitt, the creator of Pruitt Prep, creates. He hears clues to finding his friends on the podcast, which sends him and his friends on an adventure.
I wasn’t familiar with the podcast that inspired this book before reading it, but I’ll have to look it up now. This story was thrilling and creepy right from the start. Mars’s friends disappeared without a trace, including their home phones being disconnected and their homes being emptied. When Mars would get a warning from the podcast that something would happen, I got goosebumps, because it was like the podcast was speaking directly to him.
The story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. The final chapters were very intense, but not as creepy as the beginning of the story. It felt like a new story was beginning on the final pages. I would love to see what happens to Mars Patel next.
This is a great middle grade novel.
Thank you Candlewick Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Whispering Pines by Heidi Lane and Kati Bartkowski
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Have you read The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel? What did you think of it?