on January 1st 1970
Genres: Sci Fi, Science Fiction
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet meets The 100 in this unforgettable debut by a brilliant new voice.
A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? has a premise I just couldn’t resist – set in a world very much like ours, but where a planet capable of sustaining human life has been discovered, the story follows a one-way mission to this new planet. Since it will take 23 years for the crew to even reach Terra-Two, and they’ll need to do lots of work when they arrive to prepare the planet for future arrivals, it’s decided that a group of young adults will make up the bulk of the crew. The UK space agency sets out a call for healthy 12-13 year olds, and then puts applicants through rounds of rigorous testing, before sending those who make it through the first rounds to a school called Dalton. Dalton is essentially a boarding school designed to push students to their absolute breaking points – and then past them. Lots of students drop out, until eventually the school narrows it down to the final 50, and selects both a crew and a back up crew from this selection.
As the book opens, the crew have been selected, and our perspective switches between each of the six selected crew members, and a member of the back up crew. We get to hear about how each feels about having been selected (or in Jesse’s case, not selected) and why each of them decided to leave their lives, their families, and quite literally the only world they’ve ever known behind. The book then alternates between the immediate run up to the launch, the mission itself, and the events that led up to each character being selected.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? has a lot of things I love – a competition element, a big cast, multiple POVs, and of course, space, so I had pretty high hopes going in, but I feel like I haven’t seen much about it online. I got through it pretty quickly, in about 4 days, though it isn’t necessarily an action-packed read. The story is very much character driven, so I can certainly see why it’s being compared to Becky Chambers’ A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. The crew is made up of ten people in total – our six young people, and four older, more experienced crew, and although they sort of know each other before they leave Earth, seeing them get to know each other better, and actually learn how to live together in such extreme circumstances made for really interesting reading.
Plot wise, I liked the premise more than the execution I think. The pacing is definitely quite slow, much more character than event-driven, and while that’s not an issue necessarily, I did think the book could have been shorter. I also thought there’d be a lot more about Terra-Two itself, but the story is absolutely about the journeys rather than results. I thought from the beginning that the choice of crew was a little questionable, and so the sort-of-twist was very predictable, but despite my issues, I enjoyed the story anyway. The writing is smooth and easy to read, and the novel is full of moments to make you think, and reflect on what’s important in your own life. It has plenty of heart-tugging moments, as well as some that will make you feel hopeful, so if you’re looking for sci-fi with a little less space drama and a little more emotional drama, this is the book for you!
One thing I do think is worth pointing out, is that Do You Dream of Terra-Two? contains suicide, depression and disordered eating, so if those are things you’re sensitive to, just please bear that in mind.