- The Good: Warm, kind, decent people trying to what’s right for them
- The Bad: Little to no action, mystery, suspense, or conflict
- The Literary: Pushes the boundaries of hopeful, positive scifi
Recently accepted into the galactic community, the human race has the opportunity to leave their human outpost, the Exodus Fleet, for alien civilizations. Those who stay cling to their human way of life, afraid of change. Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left, but she’s not sure she made the right decision. Kip, a young apprentice, wants a new life but isn’t sure where to begin. Sawyer, a visiting alien researcher, is looking for a new home of her own.
Humanity has been through a lot. Leaving Earth, living aboard a closed system for generations, and now, entrance into the galactic community. Every person has an opportunity to leave the only home and lifestyle they’ve ever known, and now they must decide what they want. This novel is a musing on the big choices we must make that don’t have correct answers. Why are we here? How do you know what to do with your life? What is the best decision for your family? The microcosm of individual experience collectively becomes a picture of all humanity doing the best we can.
The characters mentioned above and more make up the multiple POVs, my favorite of which is Eyas, a professional undertaker, who at the start of the novel must figure out how to process forty-three thousand bodies on the fragile ecosystem of the space fleet following a disaster. Eyas’ story introduces the reader to aspects of human life that are already well established in this society, including the use of dead bodies as fertilizer and legalized prostitution, of which Eya partakes regularly, knowing they will treat her body as carefully as she handles her dead ones, with reverence and appreciation.
Other POVs revolve around a parent trying to do the best to help her bullied child, an angsty teenager, an elderly archivist who maintains our species’ record, and a visiting alien who is oh-so intrigued by human customs, but none of these characters are all that interesting. In fact, the entire book is rather pastoral, with little driving the plot forward. I’m a big fan of humanism, but, in a novel, if everyone does the right thing and talks their feelings through at the end of every day with a sympathetic partner, it makes for a resounding lack of tension.
Recommended for anyone who needs a hug in book form!
“What was better – a constant safeness that never grew and never changed, or a life of reaching, building, striving, even though you knew you’d never be completely satisfied?”