Temi Oh, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? Simon and Schuster, 2019.
Audio version available on Audible.
I had mixed feelings at the end of Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, a near-future scifi novel. Without a doubt, Temi Oh has written a story which has many strong points, but other aspects were less convincing to me. Nonetheless, it is an interesting novel with a lot of potential.
In the 19th century, Tessa Dalton, a British woman, proposed the existence of a planet orbiting a binary system discovered by her father. She used to dream about that planet, Terra-Two.
In 2012, the UK Space Agency is about to launch a colonising mission to Terra-Two. Veteran astronauts will go, along with six teenagers who have been chosen all over the UK and selected through a rigorous process.
Teenagers main characters? Aye, there's the rub for me. I don't enjoy teenagers as main characters, and, sadly, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? hasn't changed my mind about this.
I was also disappointed in the flashbacks: we get to see their lives before the launch, before the program. I'm not sure it brought me a better understanding of their characters, or more empathy for them.
So, yes, to me the weak point of the novel is the characters which was a bit of a pity in a novel that is designed to be character driven. But liking characters or not relies so much on personal tastes, that you can feel free to dismiss it and see what I enjoyed instead.
The story is extremely compelling during the first half of the book. Apart from the annoyance at the characters, it was well told, at a fast pace. I was really looking forward to know what happened next. I was slightly underwhelmed by the second half. It felt both a bit predictable and unfinished. Will there be a sequel? As far as I know when writing this review, none has been announced.
The strongest point of the novel, to me, is the notion of dreaming Terra-Two, from Tessa Dalton to Astrid, one of the teenage astronaut. There's a slightly surreal and lyrical aspect to it, and it's a great metaphor for the search of an utopia as humanity destroy Earth blindly. I wish it had been explored even further but it echoes superbly with the theme of loss that you can read throughout the novel. Hope and grief, both interwoven and creating diverging paths.
Maybe that's why there should be no sequel, why it feels unfinished. It is the dream of Terra-Two that counts.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? will no doubt appeal to a lot of readers, particularly if they enjoy teenage characters and a novel that has both action and introspective moments. As for me, I don't regret reading it because I enjoyed it a lot despite not being the target audience for some aspects of it.
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I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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