From the Hugo Award-winning author of Between Two Thorns comes the first novel in a captivating science fiction series where a secret withheld to protect humanity’s future may lead to its undoing…
“Cathartic and transcendent.”—The New York Times
“An exceptionally engaging novel that explores the complex relationship between mythology and science.”—The Washington Post
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...
This heartbreaking adventure is a tragedy of science and faith. Renata "Ren" Ghali followed her lover, Lee Suh-Mi, on a voyage to the stars with 1,000 other colonists. They found a new world, but Suh-Mi went into the alien structure known as God's City, and she never came back. In the 22 years since, Ren has contented herself with her work as a technician. She lives at the foot of God's City and seeks balance between her secret torments and the colony's needs. That delicate collection of compromises is shattered by the arrival of Suh-Mi's grandson, whose existence could reveal the web of lies that has held the colony together. Newman (The Split Worlds) begins with the high stakes of a new colony and raises the risk to every human life as events unfold. She carefully manages her pacing until events make each revelation as inevitable as it is destructive. The unfurling of God's City's reason for summoning the interstellar travelers is heightened by the illogic and desperation that threatens the colonists from the start. Ren is obsessed with repairing every broken object. The first thing God's City breaks is promises, leaving Ren responsible for solving a mystery that has only borne regret and death as its alien fruit.
Nicely done. Thought provoking. Ending a bit of a letdown, but mayhap it will be addresses in the next book in the series. Worth reading.
Good writing gone wrong
Newman is clearly a very good writer - she crafts good sentences and draws you in with rich characters. But this SF novel suffers from major flaws. Pacing is a problem - it gets going slowly and key plot motivators are only hinted at until the very end. And the end - spoiler alert! - is deeply negative and dissatisfying. Little is revealed, terrible things happen, and Newman’s world is shown to be heartless, cruel, and pointless. A depressing read.
Beautifully told, but disappointing
Throughout the story the POV character has a secret she doesn't reveal until the end. Wanting to figure out that secret pulls you thorough the book, but to me it feels like a cheat. The protagonist knows, and the author has to go out of her way to hide the truth in her thoughts.
To me, that's a frustrating way to read a story, and the ending was very anti-climactic and unsatisfying.
If you are the sort of person who likes a very heady book, with lovely prose, and you don't mind that there is not a clear theme or conclusion, you might really enjoy this. Otherwise, I would pass.