Written by: Emma Newman
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Genre: Soft Science-Fiction
Planetfall is an interesting book. Despite its name, it is not actually about a group of astronauts making planetfall; it is about what they did years ago during planetfall and how their actions and decisions have sculpted the ensuing society and individuals involved.
This book has a lot going for it, and a lot going against it, but at only 320 pages these highs and lows create a whiplash effect where the reader is both not fully able to enjoy the highs and feels increased frustration toward the lows. Still, taken as a whole, Planetfall is a good novel.
The aspects of the novel that I enjoyed, I really enjoyed: Newman’s prose and pace are both phenomenal and make for a very entertaining, thoughtful, and cinematic read, the mystery imbedded into the plot is well conceived, and the setting, despite not being explored thoroughly as it should have been, is spectacular.
However, I equally disliked several other aspects: outrageously shallow and unlikable characters, unexplained or hastily explained plot holes, a heavy-handed focus on uninteresting psychological motivations, a very narrow view of the world due to the narrator’s simple-minded perspectives, and a very unsatisfying conclusion.
That I disliked so many aspects so strongly yet still enjoyed the book and will likely read more from Newman speaks volumes about what she did so well. Fans of science-fiction should read this book, but it’s likely not for everyone.
Recommended with a grain of salt.