66 pages 2 hours read

Jasmine Warga

A Rover's Story

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2022

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Summary and Study Guide


A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga (Harper Collins, 2022) is a middle-grade science fiction adventure that follows a Mars rover on its journey from first awareness to Mars and back. The book was an instant New York Times bestseller and a 2022 best book of the year for The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and IndiGo. Warga is the author of several books for middle-grade and teen readers, including the award-winning titles Other Words For Home and The Shape of Thunder. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history, and after graduation, she taught sixth-grade science, which inspired her to begin writing stories for middle graders. She currently resides in Chicago and teaches in the MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

This guide follows the 2022 Harper Collins edition of A Rover’s Story.

Plot Summary

A Rover’s Story follows Resilience, a Mars rover, from the moment he becomes aware of his existence. As a robot, Resilience should not experience human emotions. However, as he learns and grows fond of the scientists in his lab, he begins to incorporate human emotions into his vocabulary and perception, often imparting this capacity to the other robots he interacts with. Through relationships with scientists Xander and Rania, as well as with another rover named Journey, Resilience grapples with what makes him similar to Journey but different from Rania and Xander. As Resilience matures, he comes to understand and appreciate his purpose.

Initially, Resilience has mixed feelings about the pressure of going to Mars, and he relies on kindness from Xander and Rania to help him cope. Xander has always been casual and friendly. Rania is typically more reserved, but as Resilience’s departure grows closer, she reveals all the hopes she has for the rover and herself. Resilience is honored by the trust she places in him, and he resolves to be the best rover he can be.

In the meantime, Sophie, Rania’s daughter, writes letters to Resilience. Sophie also has mixed feelings about the rover that takes so much of her mother’s attention. Sophie is a little jealous of Resilience, but as she writes more letters, the young girl finds a link between herself and the rover. Her mom cares about them both, and Sophie uses this connection with Resilience to feel close to her mom even when Rania is working long hours at the lab.

After launch, Resilience and his drone companion only have each other on the long flight to Mars. Cut off from communication with the scientists until shortly before landing, the two build a friendship and comfort one another, each glad they aren’t facing the future alone. When the pair land on Mars, Guardian, a satellite, inserts herself into their friendship. At first, Resilience finds Guardian to be overbearing and annoying, but as the trio faces obstacle after obstacle together, they become a formidable team against everything Mars throws at them.

Resilience has two objectives on his Mars mission: to bring Courage (a rover that has gone missing) back online and to find a fossil or some other evidence that Mars once supported life. The latter, Resilience believes, is key to earning his passage back to Earth. Over the next few Earth years, Resilience treks across Mars, determined to achieve both goals and then return. On his travels, he hears a strange noise that comes from a rock formation, but when he attempts to explore the area, a dust storm damages his drone. Unwilling to leave his fallen friend behind, Resilience disobeys the scientists’ commands and retrieves the drone. They continue together to where the drone spotted Courage, but on reaching the old rover, Resilience finds its memory blank.

After desperately trying and failing to recover anything from Courage, Resilience suffers a brief existential crisis. Nonetheless, he resolves to make his remaining time on Mars count. If he also goes blank, he will do so knowing he tried. Returning to the dangerous rock formation, Resilience begins a perilous climb to reach a tunnel that he hopes might hold a fossil or signs of water. At the very top, already stuck in place, Resilience drills into a different type of soil. Just as he secures the sample, he falls—everything goes dark.

A series of letters from Sophie commences. As Sophie ages, she writes letters to Resilience about her mother developing an illness, recovering for a time, and then finally relapsing. Several years later, she writes another letter, excited that Resilience will be brought back to Earth so the samples he collected can be analyzed.

Seventeen years after Resilience went dark, he wakes back on Earth, his memory fully intact. Xander is there, but Rania is not, and no matter how hard Resilience searches for her, he can’t find her. Having lost his drone to Mars, Resilience spends his days looking back on fond memories and dealing with his grief.

Reunited with Journey, Resilience is placed in a museum exhibit about his journey to Mars and resulting findings. One night, the museum is closed for a party, and Rania arrives, healthy. She took on a new position after recovering from her illness once again, and Resilience is overjoyed to see her. Sophie is also there. She congratulates Resilience on his findings and on coming home to Earth, and Resilience ends the book not certain what the word “home” means but confident in his ability to learn.

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