Review: Planetfall

Planetfall by Emma Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #11 for 2017
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge Task: A book recommended by a librarian or bookseller
Personal Reading Challenge Tasks:
– A book with a woman on the cover
– A book set on another planet
Better World Books Challenge Task: A book by a female writer
Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge Prompts:
– A book set more than 5000 miles from my location
– A book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
Possible Book Bingo Squares:
– A Book About Mental Illness
– A Book with an LGBTQA Character
PopSugar Challenge Prompts:
– A book with one of the four seasons in the title
– A book with an unreliable narrator
– A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
– A book with an eccentric character

(view spoiler)

Much of the time when I finish a book and can’t quite decide how I feel about it, my feelings tend to get more negative as I mull it over. This book seems to have me doing the opposite. There’s still a lot about the book — especially the ending! — that I don’t understand, but I am beginning to think that that is part of Newman’s point. I don’t think we’re supposed to fully understand why Renata did half the stuff she did, and especially the stuff at the very end, but the more I let it all just kind of stew together in my brain, the more it feels like it makes a weird kind of fucked-up sense. Newman uses the metaphor of mosaic in the story, and much like the cover image of a woman’s face made up of tiny little objects, everything eventually coalesces into meaning.

This would be an interesting book to re-read. As an audience, we get only Renata’s perspective, and she’s pretty clear from the get-go that she’s not exactly a reliable narrator. But despite her best efforts to hide things from us as well as herself, she is constantly telling us almost everything we need to know. Newman is just that good at tilting our perspective so that we’re disoriented enough to not catch on as quickly as we might normally. Newman is also having so much fun showing us this new world she created that we get caught up in that as well and get distracted.

I think this book would have something for lots of different readers, not just science fiction fans. There is a great deal of futuristic tech and exobiology involved, yes, but there are many layers to this story. At its core, its about the human experience and what it means. It doesn’t get much broader than that. Just know that it also means that the ending will be pretty dang ambiguous.

View all my reviews


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