In Bellin’s (Scavenger of Souls, 2016, etc.) imaginative far-future sci-fi, the people selected to escape Earth wake from their millenniumlong sleep only to find their new home planet uninhabitable. As their resources quickly dwindle, two teenagers are the key to human survival—or extinction.
Cameron Newell, the 17-year-old white boy who narrates, is more love-sick puppy than intergalactic hero. Son of a high-ranking Upperworld official, his privileged life is completely upended when he sees a broadcast of a Lowerworld protest. Cam is immediately captivated by the mesmerizing brown-skinned young woman leading the crowd. Convinced she is the love of his life and desperate to find her, Cam joins the Lowerworld revolutionaries. Unfortunately, the brilliant, corporation-run world the author creates and the fascinating themes inherent to revolution and colonization of a new planet are suppressed by Cam’s self-centered lamentations. For example, through Cam’s eyes, a key political decision is framed as a personal betrayal rather than an attempt to save hundreds of thousands of people. The most interesting aspects of the book, be they plot points or nuanced character development, are revealed through stretches of expository dialogue because Cam is too distracted by his single-minded crush on Sofie to know anything of value.
Brings new meaning to “star-crossed lovers”—read it for the intriguing concepts that play out behind the romance. (Science fiction. 14-18)