Anna arrives on Mars and finds a note to herself- in a manner that suggests that she wrote it. The note tells her not to trust the base psychiatrist, something her gut also tells her. As she acclimates to the base other things happen to make her doubt whether she's entirely stable, or perhaps she is suffering from immersion psychosis, a condition that's not uncommon for people making the long trip. Complicating matters is the fact that she has a history with dissociative episodes that go back to an abusive father. This is a huge part of the story, and I could really sympathize with Anna as she went through these tough memories.
The problem I had with Anna is I didn't really like her that much. She has a husband and child back on Earth and I came to appreciate the journey she makes as she confronts her feelings about motherhood, but for most of the book she irked me. But she does ask some essential questions. What is the nature of motherhood? Do we judge women by their feelings on motherhood, on if they're a "good" mother, even though that's only part of who they are?
That's the point of good science fiction, I believe. The best science fiction makes us look at ourselves too, and perhaps rethink preconceived notions. Or just straight up challenge us. This book did that. She also took on religion, it seemed to me- I've read lots of books where religion was frowned on but this one seemed more in your face about it? That may just be my take, I can't speak to what the author was going for there, but I can see where that might be challenging for some.
Part of the problem is there were literally pages and pages of angst, and I thought it was being laid on a little too thick? But I also saw in the acknowledgements that the author has a personal interest in addressing some of these issues, and that caused me to rethink some of my concerns.
So... the ending. Or the last third of the book, which hit me like a gut punch. Seriously, one of the better twists I've had the pleasure of reading. The whole book has this air of mystery, of an impending something- I mean you have a base with only four people and an AI running things, and Anna is having memories or perhaps false memories?- you know something is coming, and yup something is! It's a doozy and I can't say much without spoiling, so I'll just say it works. This book redeemed itself for me in a big way- I still have some issues with all the Anna introspection, not because of her feelings but because it seemed to go on forever- but taken as a whole the book worked for me.
I'd love to see what other people think of Anna and her choices, and also the relationships she forges with the other members of the team. As part of the Planetfall series (I have not read the other books) it is loosely connected, you don't have to have read the others to follow along, although I imagine it adds a lot.
I don't read many science fiction books, but I do love watching sci-fi movies. Is that weird? Lol I'm glad this instalment redeemed itself for you in a big way :)ReplyDelete
I might have fallen out of like with scifi, but you have me so curious about the twist!ReplyDelete
This sounds so good! I might have a problem with the too-angsty main character, but I love when books delve into big-picture questions, and of course I love a good twist. Great review!ReplyDelete
I'm dying to read this. I'm really curious about the motherhood aspect of the story, being a mom myself, and I love how Newman tackles mental illness in each of her books. I'm also happy the last part of the book was such a turn around for you!ReplyDelete
Okay now I'm really curious about this book. You're the second person to say anything about it so I'm going to check it out!ReplyDelete
Great review! I love a good plot twist and the rest of the plot sounds intriguing as well! I'll have to check this one out!ReplyDelete
I hadn’t heard of this one till now but it does sound interesting and I love when awesome endings save the story.ReplyDelete
Oh boy, you lost me with the angst. I just can't take pages and pages of angst at the moment but I'm so glad the ending made it worth the read!ReplyDelete
Wow. This sounds intense and good. I love when a book does a turn around for the better.ReplyDelete
It is really hard when the main protagonist irks you. I am glad there was growth and that the last one-third blew you away.ReplyDelete
So many books don't get going until the last third lately and for me it's becoming annoying. Heh heh. I seriously love the cover of this book. It sounds like something I would read, so maybe in the future I can add my two cents. Ha ha. Thanks for sharing your review and getting me interested.ReplyDelete
Can't wait to read this one. I'm actually very pleased to hear that the ending made it for you, because I've always felt that was where the first two books faltered (as much as I adored After Atlas). I'm gonna have to prepare myself for the character of Anna though, though now that I've been warned I think I can bear her unlikable ways :DReplyDelete
~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum
I think it's safe to say that all the angst would have made this a DNF for me!ReplyDelete
This sounds like a great sci-fi that I will really enjoy. That cover is all sorts of amazing as well. I am glad it turned around for you. :)ReplyDelete
Some of the things about this book are really intriguing me, like the mystery and the note from herself and the twist, but other things you said make me think I might not like this. I saw earlier the audio is on Hoopla though, and I'm always searching for audiobooks I can stand, so I may give this a try at some point!ReplyDelete
I love it when a book delivers a good twist! It can make ALL the difference between a good book and a great book. Great review!ReplyDelete
I am looking forward to reading this one. I am glad the ending turned the book around for you.ReplyDelete
I think it can be really interesting when you read about a character and sympathise with them, but don't really like them? I kind of felt that way with Americanah. I'm glad the ending or the last third of the book made this a much better read for you!ReplyDelete