Biome by Ryan Galloway


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Part of a Mars terraforming settlement, a teenager has six days to figure out why doctors are repeatedly wiping her peers’ memories—and why she’s retained her own—in this sci-fi debut.

It’s been nearly a year since Lizzy Engram left Earth to join Mars Colony One, helping make the planet habitable. She’s one of numerous cadets working in biomes, which sustain varying atmospheres, providing optimal conditions for plants. Lizzy’s been experiencing déjà vu lately and is a little nervous about tomorrow’s First Expedition, a mission exploring the planet outside of the colony. The following morning, however, fellow cadets are sure First Expedition is still a week away, while Lizzy, it seems, is the only one who remembers yesterday. But there’s more: Lizzy recalls earlier tests, leading her to believe the colony’s doctors have been regularly wiping her memories. And she doesn’t merely have her own memories, but other cadets’ as well, including her best friend, Chloe. Wanting to know why the nefarious physicians are pilfering memories, Lizzy hides and recruits others, proving herself by relaying their private thoughts or pasts. She soon realizes the doctors are using a technique called Revisions, presumably to cover up a truth. But Lizzy’s keeping secrets, too, ranging from the missing cadets that everyone’s forgotten to something even bigger that, if it becomes common knowledge, could result in widespread panic. The story’s setting is ample and extensive, particularly the biomes, each with a color designation and nicknames for its workers (for example, yellow for the Bolos in the Tropical Rainforest Biome). But it’s the characters’ relatable predicaments that truly reinforce the plot. Lizzy, for one, struggles to convince friends to trust her while she doesn’t have much faith in anyone else. Galloway loads his tale with mysterious elements, like why Lizzy’s a hub for stolen memories, and wisely unveils them throughout the novel—instead of saving them all for the last few pages. There’s romance (reliving what was in cadet Noah Hartmann’s mind shows he has, or had, strong feelings for Lizzy) and minimized but sound melodrama (Lizzy keeps that previous tidbit from Chloe, who’s a Noah fan). The ending, meanwhile, satisfies on every level.

An indelible red-planet backdrop enhances an already rugged, tenacious story of a colony’s cadets learning to rely on one another.

Pub Date: Dec. 6th, 2016
Page count: 410pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2016


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