Published by Roc on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Colonization, Science Fiction, Space Exploration
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From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thorns, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…
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…
Planetfall is what I would call “Soft Core Sci-fi.” Regular folk would just call it Soft Sci-fi. This is the type of story that would appeal to all kinds of readers, rather than just sci-fi readers. It doesn’t focus only on the usual sci-fi elements. Yes, there is a story here that involves 3-D printing, engineering, biology, and the colonization of a new planet, but the strength of the story lies with the very human characters.
Ren, the MC, is very interesting, because, while she is very disconnected from her emotional self, she forces you to feel for her. Not necessarily like her, mind you, just feel for her. She’s a character that keeps everyone at arms length – the reader included. For the most part, I felt a great deal of pity for her. At the same time, I wanted to protect her. She’s not a particularly stable person. The author did a very good job of giving you Ren’s story bit by bit, while also unfolding the history of the colonization of the planet.
Without giving away too much, there are strong cult-like tones throughout. Religion in my books is anathema to me, but here, it wasn’t heavy-handed and did not detract from my reading experience at all.
I spent a good 24 hours debating my rating. On the one hand, I blew right through this book, because so much of it was a mystery and, naturally, I wanted to see what would happen next. On the other hand lies that ending. Sigh. Barring the ending, this is a solid 4.5 for me, which is why it pains me to give it just 3. I’m torn between wanting to tell everyone to read it, because it’s a great story, and telling you all to be wary of a lackluster ending. I will say I don’t regret reading it and I will definitely be seeking out this author’s other books.
Planetfall is an out of this world (pun intended) story, that fell flat for me at the end. Maybe I’m being slightly too harsh here, because it wasn’t the worst ending ever, but I definitely feel like Emma Newman owes me a sequel.