One of the few disadvantages of owning ebooks is that I tend to forget which ones I own. In an attempt to organize the books on my Kindle, I rediscovered Planetfall by Emma Newman. Granted, the e-galley has only been on my Kindle since November (right before it was released).
I read Planetfall in one sitting.
The story starts many years after the crew landed, which they call Planetfall. The handpicked colonists of scientists build their homes at the base of the alien structure. Suh-Mi disappeared into the structure during their initial exploration and the colonists hold a vigil at its entrance for her triumphant return.
Renata is one of the original colonists on a new planet. Lee Suh-Mi, the woman she loved, had a vision of a planet perfect for humanity. Suh-Mi, and her followers escape Earth and its failing resources, overpopulation, and diseases to start over. No one has ever seen this planet but have faith in Suh-Mi’s visions–which includes an alien structure that many believe is a conduit to God.
One morning, an outsider shows up at the colony’s gates. Ren is shocked to learn that Sung-Soo is the Suh-Mi’s grandson. Everyone believed Sung-Soo’s father perished during planetfall. The colony welcomes Sung-Soo with open arms, but Ren doesn’t trust him. Soon he threatens to uncover a secret that will destroy the colony and everything it was built upon.
There’s so many aspects of Planetfall that I loved.
First of all, I love the way Newman builds her world. She weaves details into her characters’ thoughts and interactions. Through Ren’s job, we learn how essential 3-D printers are the colonies. They access patterns from their network to print building materials, clothing, even food. I could easily visualize each person’s home and their roles in the community.
Second is how diverse Newman’s characters are. More importantly, the characters’ ethnicity and their sexual orientation does not drive the plot. This is just who they are. Ren is mixed race and loves women. Other people in the colony are bisexual. I appreciate that diversity is not a big deal. Planetfall reflects our current society, though a bit more enlightened when it comes to marriage and relationships.
A major element of the novel is science versus religion and faith. Newman illustrates that they are in exclusive of the other. Everyone on the colony is a scientist but they are bound together by faith in Suh-Mi’s visions. Each person interprets it differently but this faith doesn’t void science.
Ren is a fascinating character. At first I thought she was an introvert, but she also mental health issues. She has anxiety, panic attacks, and more (as readers will learn later). This affects how she responds to Sung-Soo’s appearance and how she interacts with her community.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I highly recommend Planetfall by Emma Newman. For those who don’t usually read science fiction, you won’t feel overwhelmed with the science because of how the author introduces the concepts. It’s really a novel about community, hiding secrets, and faith.
#ReadDiverseLit: If you’re participating in our Reading Diversity Challenge, you’ll be able to check out several items on our challenge:
#3 Book in which character suffers from mental illness
#8 Science fiction or fantasy with female main character of color
#11 Book with a main character who is mixed race
#12 Novel with an LGBT main character
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