This book is being published on October 5th so make sure to get in there now and pre-order your copy! I received an advanced copy of the book for review by the publishers.
Can home be a place you’ve never even been? A place you can’t even truly understand or imagine. And once you’re back there, is it really home?
Leo has lived all his life on Moon 2, a space station orbiting the earth, with his sibling-friends, twins Libra and Orion. They were born there, apparently by accident, to mothers who were working in orbit at the time, and being children, are deemed not strong enough to return home to earth until their 16th birthdays which are rapidly approaching as we enter the story.
Written from Leo’s perspective, it’s a fascinating look at being a true outcast, having very little human contact and absolutely no experience of everything that we know. We follow him on his journey from 0g to the gravity of earth, into quarantine and to his grandfather’s ranch. The struggles of him trying to understand how to physically and mentally exist in a world he doesn’t recognise as home.
I’ll address the obvious first; the thing that everyone’s pointing out and is meaning this book is being left unfinished by some: the text speak. “U” is used instead of “you”, “c” instead “see”, and numerical digits instead of the number written out as a word.
As a self-proclaimed grammar stickler (I’ve even got the T shirt), this bothered me at first. A lot. I thought it was because it was YA and written that way to try to fit in with that genre, even though I’m not entirely sure teens even use text speak any more (why bother when we no longer have to use the multi-tap method of typing?). Then I discovered it was because Leo is in space and astronauts write that way in order to convey a message more quickly – every second counts in space – and it made sense. From then on, it still bothered me a little but I eventually stopped seeing it. It seemed to bother me most in dialogue though as it made statements seem more casual and abrupt when that character actually wasn’t really that way, but that’s really the only issue I had with it in the later parts of the book.
Moving past that though, the rest of the writing was wonderful. Descriptions that can only be described as luxurious; perceptions of earth, of “home”, as being a completely new experience. The only experiences Leo and his friends have of earth is those in books, films, TV shows and what the Company chooses for them to see.
After finishing the book, I found myself actually thinking hard about the sensations described that I normally take for granted: gravity dragging me down to the ground; the feeling of a mattress pushing back up against me, the duvet weighing me down; scents in the moving air; the sound of birds wings; and tastes. All the tastes. The way that all of these things and more became so real for me that I was appreciating things I never would have thought twice about before.
The wider world the book is set in is fantastic. We’re in the near future, on a struggling earth, which is only made apparent through dropped hints and accidentally let-on secrets. NASA has been privatised, the Company (as they’re unsettlingly referred to) alone holds the monopoly on space. But the world is a different place to the one we know. Men are casually referred to as wearing mascara and nail polish. It’s stated as part of character-building occasionally, and as it’s all from Leo’s perspective, we see that this is not a big deal. Masculinity is being worn down. This is even more apparent thanks to Leo’s attraction to men rather than women, and the way that it’s so fleetingly referred to, like the make up, as if it’s the most natural thing, rather than being made a big deal of as so many YA novels might do. This was brilliant and I’d love to see more of it.
To be completely honest, I went into this book not really expecting not to like it all that much. Yes, it’s YA and it fits one of my favourite genres of isolated landscapes, but I thought it was going to be childish and stereotypical YA-y based – I have to stop thinking this because apparently I like that stereotype! There wasn’t an overload of romance like I was expecting (in fact, there was barely any aside from the occasional attraction) and it went much deeper than I expected. I honestly loved it. It was described as The Martian for teens in the description which drew me (as I loved The Martian) so I should have believed that!
The only thing that could have made the book better was if we got to see more of the world that’s been created around the story, but I understand that seeing it through Leo’s eyes, there’s only so much we could be shown. I’d be happy to read more books set in this landscape.
I really hope this book gets the attention it deserves. I can honestly see it being made into a film – it has space, it has adventure, it has emotion, and it has a really good story line. In fact, it felt like watching a film while reading it. I hope that happens!