Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on March 7th 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction
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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet meets The 100 in this unforgettable debut by a brilliant new voice.
A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.
When Do You Dream of Terra-Two turned up on my doorstep, it was a novel that I hadn’t heard of before – but after reading the blurb comparing it to The Long Way to A Small and Angry Planet and The 100, I was totally sold!
I’m so glad I ended up picking this up because it was a fantastic introspective novel that will stay with me for a long time.
Most space novels that I read are exciting, fast paced and filled with action, but this one chooses to focus on the lives and musings of a group of young adults – and veterans – who are launched into space to repopulate a new planet, Terra-Two. It will focus on their journey as they say goodbye to everyone they know, the team dynamics as they learn to live and work together, and their deteriorating mental health as they leave behind everything they’ve ever known. What’s even more terrifying, is that the journey to Terra-Two will take 23 years, which is a long time in space should anything go awry.
It’s told from the perspectives of the young 20-somethings – Juno, Harry, Jesse, Astrid, Poppy and Eliot, who together, form Team Beta along with four other experienced astronauts. The story picks up right before they board the Damocles ship to begin their voyage. Through each of their perspectives, we learn why they decide to leave their lives behind and the excitement and trepidation of being the first humans to set their feet upon Terra-Two. However, right before they leave, one of the selected astronauts commits suicide which leaves lasting effects on the rest of the crew – including her boyfriend, Eliot.
Here’s the rundown on the characters:
- Astrid is a dreamer who has visions of Terra-Two, and has always believed in her heart that she go there.
- Poppy is the poster child of the Terra-Two project. Beautiful, soft spoken and emphathetic, she also suffers from depression.
- Harry is the pilot and Commander in training who is rich, successful and also incredibly arrogant.
- Jesse is the last minute addition to the crew, a bit of a hippie who must prove himself to the rest.
- Juno is Astrid’s twin sister and ice queen who never shows any emotion and strives for perfection, but also has a deeper vulnerability she keeps hidden.
- Eliot is suffering from PTSD and grief after losing his girlfriend before the mission. He keeps on seeing weird images.
The concept of Terra-Two is simple enough to be character-driven, but also deep enough to draw you in to the believable scenario of a mission to populate in a distant planet. Not only is it set in the past (2012), but it also builds upon other space missions that happened around that time, adding to its credibility.
The novel explores many themes and topics behind a group of young teenagers training to become astronauts – including the morality of their youth, the reasoning behind each of their choice of leaving Earth behind, the PTSD that astronauts may suffer after being off planet for so long, the prospect that their crew will become their family, and leaving behind family and loved ones on Earth.
While six character perspectives may seem like a lot – each character actually has their distinct voice and objectives that I didn’t have trouble differentiating between them at all. Like any group of strangers that suddenly end up experiencing such a monumental event together, we learn about each and every crew member and realise there is more to them that meets the eye. We find out their secrets, dreams, fears and objectives and everything is not as it seems – with a few twists thrown into the mix.
I did however, have a few issues with the story which were minor. Some of the crew end up having debilating conditions which means they may not make it to Terra-Two. Going to space is hard enough, but surviving is something else entirely. You would’ve thought that the crew would’ve been screened both mentally and physically and been at peak condition before being chosen to populate an entirely new planet – so it was a bit of a stretch to believe that some of them were not in peak condition.
There’s also a trigger warning for depression, which Poppy goes through after leaving everything behind. Juno has always been jealous of Poppy, who is beautiful, popular and sociable on the outside, and when Poppy starts moping and becoming depressed, Juno yells at her and blames her for being weak and to pull it together. While this definitely gives you an idea of Juno as a character, I thought her insensitivity should have been addressed because depression is not something that you just ‘pull yourself out of’.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two is a brilliant character exploration into young astronauts going into space – highlighting both the mental and physical challenges of leaving everything you ever knew behind, but also the excitement and honour of pioneering a new planet.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Trigger warnings: depression, PTSD, suicide
Thank you Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$24.99 or from The Book Depository.
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