Bite-Sized Book Review: Planetfall by Emma Newman

Planetfall by Emma Newman

Blurb from Amazon:

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…

My Bite-sized review:

Read if:

  • You like speculative scifi
  • You are interested in 3d printing and would like to see how that might affect colonization on other planets
  • You are curious about or can relate to PTSD and/or anxiety.
  • You like three-dimensional characters

Don’t read if:

  • You might be triggered by reading about PTSD, anxiety, or and (select for mild spoiler) hoarding or hoarding
  • You need a neatly finished happy ending

Cover-Judging: 7/10

I thought the cover for Planetfall was a little boring, but it does its job. It tells you very clearly what genre you are looking at – the little bits forming a face clearly say Science Fiction. The head tells me that this is a character-centered story, and the fact that it’s a woman’s head tells me that there are women in the story. Don’t laugh, that’s a big deal. If there aren’t any women in the story, I’m probably not going to be interested.

Here’s also a good example of a cover doing more than it needs to. The face is actually made of a lot of little items. There is a point in the story where that will start to mean something, and you may have that fun “a-ha” moment regarding the cover. Some people really enjoy that kind of thing, but it doesn’t help sell the book. I never even noticed the items when looking at the cover to buy or read the book. Instead, my brain translated them into cubes and I was surprised when I went back to look at the cover again and realized the “meaning” of the cover. Now that doesn’t mean the cover artist did anything wrong. But when you are designing your own cover, you might wish that you had a clever, meaningful cover, instead of just a genre cover. But notice that the cleverness doesn’t sell the book. It’s just fun.

My verdict:

I really enjoyed the world of Planetfall, and was genuinely attached to the characters. Ren is well-drawn – I loved her from the very start even though she is a very flawed human. I could relate to her all too strongly. When the visitor arrives at the colony, I was charmed and really enjoyed seeing the settlement from his viewpoint, and when Ren goes out exploring, I loved traipsing along with her to the eerie unknown. But my very favorite part was learning about the 3d printing. The settlement uses and reuses their materials by recycling them into a machine that balances out their resources and makes new things as needed. Ren is a technician that works with the printer, so this is very important to the story. If that sounds remotely interesting to you, just go buy the book right now. The story also touches on religion in a small group setting and across the cosmos. I enjoyed the book, though I didn’t love the ending, and I would happily recommend it.

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