Can humans settle another planet before it’s too late?
Earth is slowly dying. To fund cancer treatment for his mother, currently in cryogenic stasis, 17-year-old Matthew volunteers to be cryogenically frozen and sent 100 light-years away to one of thousands of potentially habitable planets. There’s no return—he’ll message Earth the results, and if the planet’s unviable, he’ll take a suicide pill. On Gle’ah, Matthew’s destination planet, 17-year-old Kiva leads a pre-industrial, matriarchal society. Debut novelist DeYoung crams in multitudes of plot points—cross-universe, destined romance, politics and violence on Gle’ah, weapons of mass destruction, telepathy, magical healing, drugs, and a mass shooting. A multiperspective narrative approach gives readers broad information but contains only mild characterization; main characters, especially Matthew, read like place holders. Dunne, a middle-aged black woman on Matthew’s team, specializes in particle physics and medicine but goes largely unconsulted regarding the plot’s pivotal decision; instead, white teen Matthew makes the core decision alone. Kiva’s people are “exactly like humans in every way” except for their gray skin, resulting in a culture of not-quite-white people without characters of color. The scientific/religious explanations for phenomena on Gle’ah will remind readers of Star Wars’ midi-chlorians—and not in a good way. See Beth Revis’ Across the Universe (2011) for cryogenics and Phoebe North’s Starglass (2013) for romance destined across the stars.
It’s fine in pace and flow but disintegrates under scrutiny. (Science fiction. 13-16)