The sequel to Terra (2013) confronts apocalypse with a breezy, British air.
The apocalypse in question threatens a planet called Fnrr, the adopted home of Terra, a teenage human girl. Terra’s family and planetary history are a bit murky, but her motivation is clear: save her world from certain destruction. While a mad dictator is terrorizing her adopted city, a mysterious planet-sized weapon seems to be on a collision course with the whole planet. However, Terra has a knack for stopping wars and saving worlds—we're told she’s done it before. The novel addresses the core SF theme of cultural miscommunication, and there are some endearing interactions among characters, who display the dry wit one expects from a properly British apocalypse-sufferer. But the point of view can switch on a sentence-by-sentence basis, leaving the reader confused. The use of italics rather than quotation marks for alien dialogue adds to the difficulty. Unfortunately, the story’s simple plot is not quite engaging enough to overcome the sometimes-weak prose. Obstacles fall like dominoes as Terra and her friends advance on their quest. Useful tools appear exactly when needed. Hiding places are easily found. Henchmen are reliably dim, and evil practically invites its own destruction. The result is less satisfying than the initial promise.
This novel is best for fans of Benn’s first book. Though comprehensible on its own, it offers little new ground as a stand-alone science-fiction story.