“A tense, character-driven story with sky-high stakes.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
A group of teenagers are trained to become astronauts and travel the stars to a planet that is proven to be earth like yet nothing but plant life has been found on the planet.
It will take twenty three years to get there with a newly invented space drive. The teenagers chosen to go are called the Beta group, they will travel with four much older, more experienced astronauts.
The story also follows an alternative history yet includes most of what has actually happened in our history other than the UK has a much expanded space programme having sent astronauts into space for many years. The main part of the story takes place from 2010 to 2018 and depicts history pretty much as it was apart from the big part the UK has in space flight.
The first part of the story is where we meet seven of the six teenagers, their experiences in training, their relationships and how they live with themselves and each other. One rather tragic incident colours their whole training and some begin to ask themselves what is really going on.
The main part is once everyone is on their way to Terra-Two. Mainly about their interactions, relationships and team coherence in close quarters. I found this part very interesting and the behaviours of some characters might be cliched but they are needed to move the story along. I did not find the cliches too bad and for the most part expected the outcomes but occasionally there were surprises.
The dramatic scenes come about 70% into the book, there is more tragedy, splintering of the two groups and splintering within the younger and older travelers too. The way this is written is very good and I thought all the behaviours depicted were not unreal at all.
The finale was a little unexpected, I will not go into it but some survive, some have regrets and some do the unexpected.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and the way it ends leaves it open for a sequel but the ending here is complete in itself. Good, honest SF, I’d recommend this to anyone that enjoys good, thoughtful SF writing.
I would like to thank Temi Oh, Simon & Schuster UK and Netgalley for a free copy in return for a fair and honest review.
Added 25th December 2018