Shaw (AAA Pest Control, 2013, etc.) sets a thoughtful coming-of-age tale on a faraway planet, where terraforming has transformed a small continent into an Earth-like habitat but left vast stretches of wilderness and ocean teeming with life forms.
Fallon is a foundling with two remarkable talents: his ability to draw and perfect recall, even if he only experiences an event for a split second. The second skill enhances his already formidable drawing talent, turning it into an almost priceless resource. Fallon’s planet, known as Neworld, is ruled by the mysterious—and increasingly tyrannical—Council. Opposing the Council are the Solarists, members of a renegade group whose publications argue a truth very different from the social and spiritual truths approved and viciously enforced by the Council. Missy Howard, Fallon’s only friend and confidante, upends his world when she secretly enlists Missus Grier—the head of the nascent resistance—to recruit Fallon and his remarkable talents. These events set Fallon on a journey beyond the borders of the world he knows, into the wilds of the planet, where strange new life forms—and hopefully the truth about Neworld’s past—are waiting to be discovered. The mystery of Neworld’s origins and the wonderfully imaginative alien flora and fauna bring this book to life. “A translucent organism,” for instance, “floated through the mist. It looked like a fancy gelatin mold of unique design, with a multitude of fine tentacles dangling and writhing beneath.” The action progresses steadily, although a number of the characters suffer from stock-character syndrome. That shallowness also crops up in the love triangle among Fallon, Addie—Missus Grier’s granddaughter—and her friend Lenore. Fortunately, Shaw eventually freshens up the love triangle trope with a surprise twist.
An adventurous tale set in a unique, alien world populated by fascinating creatures, though some of the characters aren’t quite as vivacious.