Published by Simon and Schuster
Published on 23 July 2013
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: My home library
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Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.
But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.
Despite the fact that the plot didn’t even kick in until well after the halfway mark, the book… wasn’t bad? Like, I enjoyed Terra’s everyday life in the spaceship. What I didn’t like was the blurb promising me:
“In this futuristic, outer space thriller, Terra has to decide between supporting the rebellion she believes in–and saving the life of the boy she loves…”
And like no, that’s not what’s happening at all, it’s not a thriller, and she barely believes in the rebellion because she, and I, both don’t really know what they’re rebelling about. And she’s not in frickin love with anyone, that’s for sure. And it’s not Phoebe North’s fault that the blurb writers hyped up her book and promised it was more exciting that is actually is. It’s slow-paced and definitely lacking in thrills or excitement.
It’s more like she accidentally stumbles and fall face-first into this rebellion and then never picks herself up off the ground to explore and maybe find out more about it. She’s not curious, she’s not driven, and she has no motivation to do anything to advance the plot. She has no goals and no obstacles to overcome. The rebellion are all like ‘Oh, before you join us, you need to prove your loyalty’ and if I was her I’d have just walked away, because they obviously need her more than she needs them… AND THEN the thing that they need her to do? If she just FRICKIN WAITED a few weeks she wouldn’t have had to do it at all. Like, I don’t even know why there is a rebellion at all? What are they rebelling, that the Council is trying to keep them alive? That there are rules and laws? I mean, there are always going to be assholes, and for most of the book, it appeared to be the rebellion who weren’t quite sure what they were standing up for but riled each other up anyway.
Terra seemed kind of bland, though. I think she may be intelligent, but it’s hard to see because we get so little introspection (except some stupid dreams). She’s passively drifting through life and the largely plot-less book like the Asherah is drifting through space, due to reach its destination but until then, life goes on as usual. I’m not looking for a high-stakes, ninja warrior, Hunger Games style action adventure, but I would like Terra to be directly involved in the plot. If you take Terra out of the novel completely, the story would be exactly the same until the plot finally kicks in at 70% (well kind of but not really). That’s what frustrated me about this book, as well-written as it is. Having a good grasp of the language you’re writing in doesn’t automatically make you a good/interesting storyteller. Terra’s passivity annoyed me. And while I don’t think she’s particularly happy, I also don’t think she’s depressed or suffering from PTSD from an abusive, alcoholic father.
What I did like was the secular notion of these Jews in space. They speak Yiddish words and have Yiddish traditions, but they’re not forced to worship or whatever it is Jews do (I don’t even know, I was raised Catholic). All I know is that the representation here felt respectful to both Jewish and non-Jewish readers. I didn’t feel excluded, although I did have to look up the definition of some words. It didn’t feel preachy or even religious.
So overall I was happy to read the book, disappointed that it was little more than a ‘slice of life’ type story, with a rebellion that seemed really pointless. (But really, how do you sell something that’s more like ‘nothing really happens’?) However, the writing was good. But it wasn’t good enough to make me want to shell out $25 for the sequel (because the sequel’s ebook doesn’t seem to be available).