Published by Boyds Mills Press on April 4th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: the author
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This fast-paced, sharply written multiple-perspective YA science-fiction debut opens on a future Earth ravaged by solar radiation. Desperate for money to save his sick mother, seventeen-year-old Matthew agrees to participate in the Exo Project, a government plan to save the human race by flying across the galaxy in search of a habitable planet for resettlement. He thinks he’s been given a death sentence: 100 years in cryostasis, followed by a quick death on some barren world. But then he lands on Gle’ah, discovering the strange, beautiful creatures who live there, including Kiva, the captivating teenage girl who leads her planet’s matriarchal society. Kiva views Matthew as a threat and for good reason—if he tells Earth that he’s found a suitable planet, it will mean the end of her people’s way of life. But then Kiva and Matthew discover an emotional connection they never expected—and as they begin to delve into the secrets of Matthew’s mission and the dark truth behind the seeming paradise of Gle’ah, the choices they make will have consequences for both of their worlds.
I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The idea that we are ruining Earth and will have to eventually abandon our home for the stars is a common fear in science fiction. With the current stance on climate change and the discovery of 7 exoplanets orbiting a nearby star, it feels like someday soon it may be science fact. A mission to send small exploratory pods out into space to search for new planets seems like something that could be needed in the near future. Matthew volunteers, lured by the promise that his little sister will be well cared for with his earnings. He is cryogenically frozen and sent far away. He wakes us 100 years in the future in a distance land.
The world that Matt comes from, our world, is starkly different from Gle’ah where Kiva lives Gle’ah is a matriarchal society, so that was nice. It seems like a utopia and then the humans arrive. Why do we always manage to screw everything up? No, not really. It was much more complicated than that.
The best thing about this book, hands down, is the ‘religion’ on Gle’ah. Kiva is named a leader of sorts because she has visions of the future. She also has the ability to hear thoughts and read people’s emotions. This religion is a major part of the book and it really calls to mind classic Sci-fi novels. I liked how Matthew really works to understand Kiva and her beliefs while working to figure out the bigger picture of what is happening on the Planet.
I liked this book. It was fine but it just didn’t catch me. I loved that it’s true, hardcore science fiction written with young adult characters. The plot of this book fits right in with Heinlein or Niven, without all the icky misogynism. My main complaint is that the writing seems almost perfunctory. Science fiction is fact and story driven but it’s still possible to deeply care about the character or the plot. That emotional connection was missing for me.