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Planetfall (Planetfall, #1) de Emma Newman
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Planetfall (Planetfall, #1) (edição: 2015)

de Emma Newman

Séries: Planetfall (1)

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6584826,554 (3.77)59
Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi's vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown. More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony's 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret. Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi. The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart.… (mais)
Membro:ckolderup
Título:Planetfall (Planetfall, #1)
Autores:Emma Newman
Informação:Ace/Roc, Paperback, 336 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca, Para ler
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Detalhes da Obra

Planetfall de Emma Newman

  1. 00
    The Relentless Moon de Mary Robinette Kowal (Aquila)
    Aquila: There's something very similar going on with the first person narration of these two books. And they're both great reads!
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Mostrando 1-5 de 48 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The spoilers in this review will be more about character revelations than plot (although, of course, it's hard to completely divorce one from the other).

Newman's primary achievement in this very readable novel is to create, in Ren Ghali, a most unreliable of unreliable narrators, who has us fooled for easily two-thirds of the novel. Yes, she is clearly socially awkward, anxious and a bit obsessive/compulsive -- but we can still trust her account of the quasi-religious colony established by followers of her friend and former lover Lee Suh Mi. Right? And yes, she's a bit untidy, well, living in total chaos, ok, a full-blown hoarder, and yes, there are the lies she's been telling her fellow colonists of the last twenty years ... but she's not lying to us. Is she?

It's to Newman's credit that, even as Ren's faults and failings are revealed, and we learn the full, terrible reality of the lies she has enabled to a community of people who think of her as their friend, it's hard to condemn her entirely, and to feel anything less than heart-broken for her when the whole pack of cards come tumbling down.

"Planetfall" is not only an enjoyable read, but for any serious student of the evolution of Science Fiction, it represents a fascinating addition to two (yes, two!) niche sub-genres of SF: religion/faith in SF, and the depiction of disability in SF. As she discloses in the acknowledgments, Newman herself "suffers from an anxiety disorder," and the way she renders Ren's view of the world, and her justifications of her behaviour, rings very real and true.

One thoughtful and well-reasoned 2-star review makes the point that the plot isn't exactly original, that (SPOILER!) it's a reworking of the plot of the movie "Prometheus." I'd say that's true, but it doesn't really matter: what Newman does is to take the very poorly developed concept from the movie ("We've come looking for God, and we find monsters!!!" Oh, and "Yes, performing a self-caesarean is a real thing!!") and ask what would happen if, twenty years after they arrived, the Seekers for God had developed a flawed but working colony. "God's city" (the equivalent here for the alien spacecraft in "Prometheus") is a McGuffin -- what's really interesting is the community that springs up from the myth, but can't survive the lies that the myth required.

Like some other 3-and 4-star reviews, "Planetfall" lost a star from me for the ending. I felt that, in the final pages, Newman lost control of her material, stretching out the "drama" to make what could have been a neat, shocking close into the quasi-religious codswallop that she had so cleverly avoided throughout the rest of the novel.

But don't take my word for it -- read it for yourself. It's well worth it. ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
I won't say too much about the plot of this excellent sci-fi novel, as the mysteries within it are carefully unravelled throughout the book. Planetfall is narrated by Ren, an engineer and geneticist who travelled from Earth to another world along with a group of other people all following the visions of Suh, who believed that God could be found there. The quiet life of the colony is disrupted twenty years later by the arrival of a man from outside the colony.

Planetfall is so completely up my street that it's quite uncanny - first person narrative, a mysterious alien planet, an intriguing female protagonist, and lots of secrets to discover. I especially liked the role that religion plays in this book - I recently rewatched Contact (although the book is better) and I adore books like The Sparrow and The Book of Strange New Things that explore the ways in which religion and science both fight and intersect with each other. Planetfall takes a different approach to this compared with those other novels, however, by foregrounding Ren's story and the secrets of her past.

It was such a pleasure to read this book as a break from research for my novel. There are three other books set in the same universe as Planetfall and I'm very definitely going to read them too! ( )
  mooingzelda | Jul 3, 2021 |
This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday.

Audio Narration
The author of the book, Emma Newman, is also the narrator. I enjoyed her narration, although for the first few minutes I kept expecting her to start talking about baby ducks in buckets. I had watched her Operation Mallard videos, so that’s what I associated her voice with.

There was nothing about her narration that bugged me, and I liked knowing that her reading of the characters represented what the author intended, since she is the author. Her voicing of different characters was easy enough to distinguish, helped by the simple nature of the story that doesn’t have a lot of different characters in one scene at a time. Some narrators don’t have the knack for voicing characters of the opposite sex and their attempts just sound silly and distracting, so I liked that Emma Newman didn’t really even try. She deepened her voice just a tiny bit for male characters, but didn’t go over the top with it.

Story
The general setting is a colony on an alien planet. Their colony is near a structure they refer to as “God’s City”. At the very beginning, a stranger is approaching their colony, and we soon learn there were other colonists whose pods failed to arrive with the main group. They were believed to be dead, and there’s some big secret surrounding what happened to them, but our main character Ren and the “ringleader” Mack were somehow at least partly responsible for it. The story is told in first person present tense from the perspective of Ren, an engineer. We experience the story with her as it happens, so the story is intentionally a little disjointed. She’s not planning out her story to try and tell it from beginning to end, she’s just living her life and we pick up the relevant bits of backstory when various events conveniently (for the reader) trigger her memories of them. Necessary background information is revealed slowly and out of order. I tend to enjoy non-sequential narrative structures, and this was no exception.

The story wasn’t what I expected, though. The science fiction aspect seemed really interesting, but a lot more time is spent on human psychology. Ren suffers from anxiety, as the reader will likely gather from the author’s dedication at the beginning. The way it manifests is different from anything I’ve read about before, and it takes a while before it’s fully revealed. There are a lot of hints and I did finally start to figure it out a little bit before it was revealed, but it took me a while to get it, maybe because it’s so contrary to my own personality. Just a one-word explanation for people who want to know more: hoarding. Aside from that, there are other psychological-type things that play a lesser role. These things are related to: what led the people to the planet, how the big secret affects both the perpetrators and the people being lied to, family relationships, friendships (some of which aren’t very healthy), and romance. There isn’t too much romance in the story though, fortunately. It’s more of an influencing factor than an active storyline, and really more about past romances than current ones.

The characters, especially Ren, felt very real. These aren’t cookie-cutter archetypes, or at least I haven’t read enough books with characters like this to feel that they were. And, like with many real life people, I didn’t understand them much. :) Ren frustrated me and at times angered me. Still, I couldn’t help sympathizing with her and wanting things to work out for her. I’ll talk more about the characters in spoiler tags so I can just type freely without trying to avoid spoilers. This is a hard book not to spoil I think, because of how things are revealed.

I wish there had been more meat to the science fiction aspect of the story, because I thought the premise was really interesting. Additionally, the ending was unsatisfying to me. Still, despite many complaints and doubts, the story held my interest well enough that I’m going to rate it a full 4 stars even though 3.5 would probably be more appropriate based on my complaints. I liked it more than I would have expected to if I’d known what I was getting into, and it worked really well for me as an audio listen. It’s a simple story, easy to follow, with limited and easily distinguishable characters. I’ll mark this series as a “probably” for continuation in print. If I run out of series to sample on audio, I might even consider doing the whole series in audio since this was such an easy listen.

Here are my many more spoiler-ish thoughts. Warning, this is very long!
Ren drove me a bit bonkers. She seemed at times like a non-stop string of excuses, complaints, self-justification, and self-recrimination. Although I could understand the source of her anxiety, I didn’t understand her method of (not) handling it. I felt like she made things worse by just letting things happen to her and never taking any initiative. I was more frustrated by her earlier in the book when I didn’t understand the extent of her mental illness, but the thing I had the biggest problem with throughout the book was her selfish dishonesty.

I did sympathize with her at times, and I couldn’t help liking her even while objecting to just about everything she did. I especially felt bad for her toward the end when people from the colony invaded her home full of judgment and anger. I couldn’t understand why, as members of a small colony that depended on each other’s skills for the well-being of the colony, they didn’t defer to the expert who told them that their way of handling things would only make things worse. People can be assholes, so maybe their behavior was realistic, but I had hoped for better. I’m probably the last person in all the universe that anybody would want to have around if they’re having a mental health crisis, because I just don’t have the real-life experience or understanding for it, and I’m definitely not the world’s most patient or nurturing person, but even I would know better than to “handle” the situation so aggressively and I would turn to people with more experience and follow their lead. And Carmen maybe needed to be put in the Masher herself. Ok, maybe not, but can we at least give her a really good slap?

Another book I read earlier this year, The Calculating Stars, also features a character who suffers from a type of anxiety, although it’s quite a bit different from this story. By comparison, I found that book’s main character to be much more relatable and more appealing. She’s more self-aware and takes more initiative. She tries to do the ethical and necessary things even when it’s very difficult for her. Ren on the other hand just lets things happen to her and engages in behavior that endangers others.

I didn’t understand how Mack thought his lie was a good idea. It doesn’t require too many brain cells to understand the secret was bound to get out eventually. And obviously the longer the secret is kept, the worse it will be when it does finally get out. It’s better to deal with a difficult thing before it becomes an even more difficult thing, and certainly better to be honest than to compound an issue with lies and attempted murder. I also didn’t understand why Ren didn’t try to take some action since she disagreed with his choices. I can understand her not wanting to take Mack on directly in a big way after he’d been willing to kill people to keep the secret, but she could have quietly spoken to people she trusted one-on-one to get advice and gather additional support. She also had the video she showed everybody at the end of the book as proof.

I also found it difficult to believe that, in all that time, everybody just went along with everything they were told and didn’t question it, even after years of essentially getting the same generic message from whoever ate the seed. I guess they were all a bit gullible/fanatical to begin with if they joined the expedition in the first place, but most of them were also scientists, so I would expect at least some people to have a more questioning and curious nature and to want more tangible proof.

I really wanted to learn more about God’s City and the culture that created it. I also wondered what would happen if more than one person discovered that final room at the same time. The setup seemed to be that a single individual would discover it, lay on the slab, and be transformed, but what if the entire colony had gone in unprotected and had made it that far together? Would the city always have ensured only one person was sprayed so only one person could enter? Or would they all have been allowed in one at a time, with the bodies disintegrating quickly enough for the next person to go through the same process? On the other hand, I have trouble imagining an entire colony of people would be willing to try it, for fear it might just be a permanent death and/or not a transformation to something better. After all, despite the depictions of what would happen, who knows if the one(s) who built it were deluded. Maybe it was built by some alien mad scientist, not necessarily a wiser and more advanced alien. I could understand Ren’s decision to go through with it though since she was desperate and at the end of her rope.

I possibly should have tried listening to this book while I was cleaning instead of cross-stitching, because it kind of made me want to scrub things. This might be a great book to read at a time when you need motivation for cleaning and/or decluttering activities!
( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Jun 28, 2021 |
Starts out well enough - decent plot, avoids clichés, has mystery. But then nothing happens for about 30 chapters. The writing is dull; it fails to make you care about any of the characters, about the central mystery, or about the fate of the entire colony. Also, the protagonist is unbearably boring; we're treated to pages and pages of her mind-numbing self-dialogues about her anxieties and mental health issues and whatnot. Dammit woman, you're in a completely new PLANET, just go out and explore things and be amazed every single minute of your life! Anyway, cutting my losses at chapter 30, should've done it after chapter 3. ( )
  marzagao | Jun 1, 2021 |
(from May 26, 2017)

I enjoyed some of it, some of it really got me annoyed. A combination of a mentally ill narrator (no, she is not seeing things - it is a different one) and a not-so-mysterious mystery works better than I expected but it is a bit too long (and I really don't buy the self-delusions of the whole colony). Nice world though. And a complete story - not just a start of one. ( )
1 vote AnnieMod | Feb 10, 2021 |
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Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi's vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown. More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony's 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret. Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi. The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart.

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