The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel Book Poster Image
Middle schoolers uncover conspiracy in fun adventure.

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel offers the chance to discuss the limits of friendship.

Positive Messages

A promise is a promise. Kids from different backgrounds can work together to rescue each other.

Positive Role Models

With the exception of Mars, it's difficult to know the ethnic origins of the characters. The cover art suggests that they include a White girl, a Black girl, and an Asian boy. Caddie is psychic and empathetic. Toothpick loves being right. JP identifies as nonbinary. Mars and his mother are Indian. They are all extremely loyal to one another. The kids are brave and resourceful, ready to do almost anything to protect one another. Mars and crew indulge in performing disruptive pranks at school and breaking and entering in the neighborhood.


A bullying boy calls Mars "Martian" and "flips a finger" at Mars and his friends.


Some flirting. A boy and girl discover they like each other at a dance.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sheela Chari's The Unexplainable Disappearance of Miles Patel is based on a popular podcast. Set in the Puget Sound area near Seattle, Washington, it features a diverse cast of middle schoolers in the who go in search of two missing friends from H.G. Wells Middle School. Eleven-year-old Mars and his crew indulge in performing disruptive pranks and breaking and entering. There's some name calling (a bullying boy calls Mars "Martian" and "flips a finger" at Mars and his friends).  The only strong language is "pissed." 

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byAgentKaren March 18, 2021


This is the best book! I'm enjoying this. Can't believe it's having a trilogy and in the future, they could adapt the book and turn it into a mov...

What's the story?

As THE UNEXPLAINABLE DISAPPEARANCE OF MARS PATEL opens, Mars is worried that his friend Aurora has disappeared and none of the adults seem to care. When another friend can't be found, Mars brings the rest of his detention crew together to track them down. The disappearances seem to have something to do with tech billionaire Oliver Pruitt, and clues start appearing in a popular podcast. Mars contends with many mysteries, from drones to holograms to headquarters hidden off the Seattle coast. Will he be able to make a tough choice and leave behind everything he cares about?

Is it any good?

If it weren't for those meddling kids there would be no adventure, and this clever mystery showcases a diverse team of young sleuths eager to be heroes. Adapted by Sheela Chari from a popular podcast, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel expands the tried and true team-of-teen-detectives theme to follow steadfast Mars as he engages in a battle of wits with a mysterious billionaire on behalf of his missing friends. The plot is exciting, the dialogue snappy, and if the story doesn't always seem believable, it moves fast enough so that readers won't quibble. The adventure is clearly just beginning, and the tangle of loose ends ensures that Mars and the gang will be back sometime soon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel plays with the popular kid-detective theme. How often do kids solve real crimes?

  • What do you think of the science fiction element in the story? What other science fiction books have you read? Do you have any favorites?

  • Would you be able to leave everything behind in return for your greatest wish?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Mystery and science fiction

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