Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
This story throws the reader right into the action with an emergency in space, in the first person POV of crewman Alex Harris. He’s part of the bio-tech staff on board the spaceship. Earth was dying so they sent people into space to reach a new planet, New Earth, for a chance to save the human race from extinction. On the way to the planet, something goes horribly wrong, killing almost everyone on board. The only other survivor is Commander Luke Belka.
This is an ARC so these things might not be in the final version, but there were a few inconsistencies that took me out of the story. At one point Alex thinks about waking up from stasis after a hundred years, but later, when he thinks about his mom being dead, the time period seems to be hundreds of years ago. The reader is told Alex hid that he was gay so he could be picked to go on this ship, even using his best friend Eileen as a beard. Yet, he also flirted with Commander Belka previously on Earth. They know nothing about this planet, not even if the air is breathable, yet they didn’t check before they disembarked. They never seem to be worried about any predators or if the plants are poisonous to the touch, only if they are poisonous to eat. Since there were other ships–ten altogether–Alex thinks maybe there will be people there already growing food, but then he is worried about planting anything from Earth that might be an invasive species and hurt the local flora and fauna.
This is really a wish fulfillment story with forced proximity. At one point I wondered if Alex was dreaming in stasis. I wanted more than just an excuse for two men to have a lot of sex, hot though it was, after all the world building and tragedy that I had to wade through. It seems terrible to have had so many people die just to set them up. The book is at its best as a crisis leads them to set out to see if there is a settlement on the other side of the mountain. The reader finally gets to see Luke’s POV as he tells Alex what he’s been thinking. All the psychological issues come to a head during an argument and there is finally the real emotional connection that I wanted all along.
I liked the book, I just wanted a bit more emotion all the way through instead of mostly in the last twenty percent. I liked that at a certain point they switched roles. Although Alex was not great in an emergency, he recovered from his overwhelming grief and resignation to find joy in his environment. Luke, who was great in an emergency, couldn’t adapt to the fact they were alone. He ignored anything that meant they might be there a long time right up until he could no longer do it. The book ends with hope, but I can’t help wondering if any of the other nine ships made it or are still coming. Despite their being in love, I can’t help wondering what would have happened to their relationship had they been found.
The cover art is by Natasha Snow and matches the title to show the hopeful, positive side of the story.