Hello humans! Another ARC review? Well with so many amazing books publishing in February there was no other way to fit them all in otherwise! Today’s book was one of those ‘it could be terrible but I hope it isn’t’ kind of books. You know the ones I mean? I went into this unsure of what I might find and I was for the most part pleasantly surprised.
Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.
More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.
Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.
The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…
I’m going to start with talking about the setting, this story takes place in a colony built on another planet. What was interesting for me, was that the focus was far more on what the humans had built on the planet as opposed to the ‘alien’ landscape (with the exception of ‘God’s City’ which is a kind of creepy semi-alive structure that features too heavily in the plot for me to explain it without spoiling anything). I liked the idea of a colony that relies on 3D printing everything, recycling the things they no longer need to be reprinted into other items. I thought this was a glimpse into what life on another planet might resemble, without going fully into the pages of description and degree level science that often turns me off a science fiction novel.
But this book is not so much about what holds a group of people together on another planet as it is about the things that have the potential to drive them apart. It’s there that the different levels of ‘mystery’ come in. There is Ren’s personal life, as a character suffering from mental illness her struggle to conceal her problems from the rest of the colony was, in my opinion, well told. The mystery element as to ‘devastating secrets’ about the colony itself interested me less but was still a powerful plot device.
I was fully on board with this book until the end. It’s always difficult in this kind of book as, to be honest, the resolution of the story is far less important than everything that comes before. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that I was left feeling a little flat. Partly, I think, because it wasn’t the ending that I was expecting, but also because it came seemingly out of the blue? It is foreshadowed a little throughout the book but not enough that you are fully anticipating that being even a potential ending.
Should you read this? If you enjoy a bit of a weird science fiction book (this brought Our Memory Like Dust to mind) then I think this is worth a read. Equally, if you’re thinking of writing something set in a colony on another world, this is a cool way to do it.
My rating: 3.5 stars (rounded down to 3)
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exhange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? What kind of science fiction do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!