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Planetfall - Emma Newman

Author: Emma Newman

Rating: 4 stars


In short, this is a beautifully written, downright haunting scifi story with an ending that frankly, I can't stop thinking about.


Planetfall's synopsis is difficult to explain. Basically a team of humans travel to an unknown planet following a Pathfinder (leader) who has a vision. On this planet,  they hope to meet God or at least get some answers as to their place in the universe. Before you think this is a religiously driven story, the basis of the vision and their quest are all centered around science. That's tricky to pull off but it's well done.


In this story,  we follow one character- Renata Ghali  or Ren. She is devoted to Lee Suh-Mi, the Pathfinder who has this vision. Many surprising facets of her personality I'll allow you to discover for yourself.   Newman is a master at show vs tell. Wow. 


At the heart of this book is a mystery.  You know right off the bat, something went horribly wrong when they landed on the planet.  What happened, the scope of it, and its slow suspenseful reveal creates a palpable tension that keeps you turning the pages. 


This is a solid read, one of the best sci-fi books I've read in my limited time of delving into the genre. But I recommend it because it's just solid storytelling.


I really wanted to talk about aspects of the book that are spoilers so I'm going to insert a page break. Please don't click if you don't want to be spoiled.


Still with me?  Ok.


First off, this book deals with mental illness. I did not know that going in.  Newman's ability to capture that struggle  as well as the misguided attempts to help someone struggling with this illness - that's where this book transcends genre. For Newman's deft handling of that topic alone, I would recommend this book.


As soon as I closed the book I went to read reviews.  Cuz the ending. Oh my. As expected, people found the ending controversial.   I'm going to throw my two cents in.

I agree, some elements of the story are left hanging.  But I applaud Ms. Newman for not breaking character.  We follow Ren right to the end of her part in this story. I felt there was no way to stay true to that objective AND answer questions about the fate of the colony, without pulling us out of Ren's story.  In the end, Planetfall was purely Ren's story. I liked that Ms. Newman stayed true to that. I hope that makes sense. Also, Newman is writing another book set in the same world, so maybe, maybe there'll be some answers coming our way.


Again definite recommend.