Book Review: Planetfall by Emma Newman

Planetfall

I was really enjoying this book, and just had to stay up late to make a mad dash to reach the end–to finally find out what happened during the first planetfall exploration, which had only been hinted at throughout the book.  The journey was fascinating, and I liked the mystery and little pieces that were revealed throughout the narrative.
Unfortunately, I was super disappointed in the ending. It felt rushed, disjointed, and was not, at all, what I was expecting, which I usually don’t mind, if it makes sense. In this case, I felt like the last five or so chapters were almost from a different author.
Perhaps my dissatisfaction stems from a personal preference for tidy endings without ambiguity. And since Planetfall has underlying philosophical and religious themes, the ending did follow that thread, but I felt like there was not enough focus on those themes to justify that kind of ending.
The other 3/4 of the book I absolutely enjoyed! The main character is a female 3D printer engineer, who also knows about genetics, is bisexual/lesbian, and later we learn that she is a hoarder. These things make for a wonderfully diverse story in a time when #weneeddiversebooks is on the rise.  The storytelling pulled me in with the knowledge that the main character and the leader of the colony had lied about the death of the original “prophet”, and the mental stress was starting to seriously affect her.

I decided to build a list of pros and cons for this title as some people reading reviews might want the meat in a quick, easy-to-find format.  (What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!)

Pros:

Strong female narrator/protagonist
3D printing and engineering
Addresses hoarding as a mental illness
Future technology that makes sense and is cool
Emotional descriptions were spot on
Characterization worked well
Great worldbuilding for the colony & God’s city

Cons:

Ambiguous ending that didn’t satisfy many of the BIG questions set up in the narrative
Never really addresses the cult-like behavior
Would have liked to know more about the flora and fauna of the planet

The religious and philosophical overtones will fall into different categories for different people, but I don’t think they are insulting, but they are definitely thought-provoking. And, isn’t that what good science fiction does?

A big thanks to Ace/Roc for an advance copy, which I received through the AceRocStars program, in exchange for an honest review.  I chose this title to fulfill one of my November slots as part of the Pub. month challenge.  This book came out just last week, so you should go pick up a copy.  I know I’ll be sharing this with friends over the holidays 🙂

From the publisher:

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…

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