Planetfall – Emma Newman
Release date: November 3rd, 2015
Age Group: Adult
From the award-nominated author Emma Newman, 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…
After reading Emma Newman’s successful The Split Worlds, I was eager to read her new book, Planetfall. It promised to be something completely different and I wondered how I would end up liking that. Planetfall has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. It’s an emotional, intelligent tale about surviving and coping with tragedy. It maybe wasn’t completely what I had expected, but I enjoyed it immensely nonetheless.
Imagine your significant other waking up from a coma with coordinates to a faraway planet in her head. Would you follow her on a dangerous but potentially ground-breaking space journey to that planet? That’s what Ren did when she followed Suh-Mi on an expedition that would change her life. Not only is the planet inhabitable and very much like Earth, it has the mysterious ‘God’s City’.
The book starts 22 years after the first team landed on the planet from their space station Atlas. They explored God’s City and came back to Atlas with some incredible news: Suh-Mi was in the God’s City, communicating with ‘God’. They would all colonise the land near the God’s City to wait for her return. 22 years later, however, she hasn’t returned yet, but people are still hopeful and willing to wait.
Ren is struggling with a horrible secret about that day 22 years ago when they entered God’s City and all the things that happened after that, like the crash of some of the pods that were supposed to bring people safely to the planet during the first ‘Planetfall’. It has changed her profoundly. And then a stranger shows up from out of the wilderness, claiming to be the son of one of the crash victims.
I loved Ren’s character. She came across as such a realistically, scarred person. The secret that she has had to keep has torn her apart and though you might not completely notice that at first, it becomes clearer and clearer the more gets revealed. Some of the thoughts Ren has or the way she reacts to certain things will definitely resonate with a lot of people suffering from anxiety or other mental illnesses. It felt right to finally read an accurate, although heart-wrenching, account of how it really feels. There is one point in the novel where people address her problem and it completely broke my heart. I could feel her despair and I wanted to scream in her stead. This particular part sketches perfectly how a majority of people still don’t know how to interact with people who suffer from these kind of mental illnesses.
I enjoyed Newman’s view of life on another planet. Especially the tech that came with it. Obviously were talking about a more advanced time where 3D printers are the most important instruments to create things with. They even build their ‘houses’ with printed parts. It was fascinating! I also really liked how the colony was self-sustaining. All discarded objects get broken down to their core building blocks, so that these can be recycled to be used by the printers again. Not only that, but the houses are very cleverly made as well. They use all sorts of tech combined with natural resources to make them as efficient as possible.
The fabled God’s City gives this book a whole new dimension. When Ren goes exploring inside, it’s description almost makes it feel like a living creature.
The ending didn’t bring many answers, but I liked it anyway. It had a mystical touch and got you thinking about what everything we read might actually mean.
Newman has managed to write a compelling story that will reach deep inside your mind, provoking thought on many different subjects.
Fun fact: at first I thought the cover was just an artful piece to attract attention to the book on a shelf, but towards the end of the book it will make more sense. I always love it when this happens!
I can’t wait to read After Atlas, the second book set in the same Universe, but this time on Earth.