Book review: Cars on Mars

Cars on Mars summarizes the first years of the Opportunity and Spirit rovers, with great photography.

Title: Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet
Author: Alexandra Siy
Year: 2009

Like Mighty Mars Rovers, this is a book about Spirit and Opportunity.  Unlike Mighty Mars Rovers, Steve Squyres is much less prominent, although he's still introduced early and quoted sporadically.

The Lexile score is NC1240L, which surprised me, given Mighty Mars Rovers' 940L.  Cars on Mars is printed in a larger font and is a substantially shorter read, despite the higher difficulty score.  Cars on Mars also feels a bit more juvenile.  ("If Spirit had had robotic children onboard, they would have complained 'Are we there yet?'")

Many of the pictures used in the two books are the same, perhaps unsurprisingly.  And indeed, the content is rather similar, both books being a chronological recounting of these two rovers' work, although there places where each book has a bit more depth than the other.  Cars on Mars has more depth in discussing the updates in driving technology that were pushed out to the rovers, for instance.

Because this book is three years older than Mighty Mars Rovers, it does not extend to the end of Spirit and Opportunity's arrival at Endeavor.

Which book should you buy?  I lean towards Might Mars Rovers, given newer content, a more exciting telling, and easier reading (despite the increased length).  This book is also a solid addition to any FLL team's library, but more as a research source than a devour-it-whole story.

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