The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel (Mars Patel #1)

by Sheela Chari (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Series: Mars Patel

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 first book in the series a fresh, exciting sci-fi adventure.

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School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-7--Strange things are afoot at H.G. Wells Middle School in the days leading up to the mandatory exam that determines entrance to the prestigious Pruitt Prep. First, sixth-grader Mars Patel's friend Aurora disappears without a trace. Then Oliver Pruitt, the Steve Jobs-like inventor and founder of Pruitt Prep, announces on his podcast, "Something BIG is going to happen." The next thing he knows, Mars is hiding in the janitor's closet during a Code Red lockdown. Undeterred by his mother's pleas that he behave and his principal's threats of expulsion, Mars and his friends embark on a quest to find their missing friend and get to the bottom of the enigma that is Oliver Pruitt. Interweaving podcast transcripts, instant message threads, emails and newspaper stories, Chari deftly constructs a mystery that is strong in both plot and character. Mars's friend group is as diverse as their unique abilities, and their teamwork and loyalty are unshakable. VERDICT Based on the Peabody Award-winning podcast, fans of James Dashner's The Maze Runner and Stranger Things will clamor for more of Mars Patel.--Dana West, Roosevelt H.S., Seattle

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This terrific start to a book series contains intriguing characters, conspiracy theories, customized drones, holograms and a tantalizing mystery that could be leading readers anywhere in this world... or beyond." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Sheela Chari
Sheela Chari is the author of Finding Mighty and Vanished, which was an Edgar Award finalist. She lives with her family in New York.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Walker Books Us
Publication date
October 20, 2020
Mars Patel
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV053000 - Juvenile Fiction | Science Fiction
JUV028000 - Juvenile Fiction | Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories
Library of Congress categories

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