I first fell in love with this book because the cover was gorgeous. I think I could spend a lifetime just staring at the cover and how beautifully it came out. But then I read the book and it blew me away in so many different ways.
Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.
This wasn’t the typical YA SFF story that I usually read. I mean, it has the tropes. It has the bits and pieces of a YA SFF story that you want, but it was so much more for me. It read like literary fiction. It had that Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go vibe and it really surprised me. This was definitely one of those stories where it was less important how the world worked, how the science of everything turned out, and how Kasey eventually figured out how to save the world. It’s more about Kasey and Celia; their fractured relationship, their need to find each other, and the world that they grew up in and how that affected both of their lives in very different ways.
Of course, there’s some explanation, but for most of the book there’s a level of trust you need to have in Joan He to guide you towards the inevitable ending. However, if you’re looking for a book with detailed information on how the world is saved from climate change and pollution, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The main focuses of this book are Celia and Kasey making this much more than just another SFF novel. This makes it literary. It makes it character-driven and elevates the book to a more mature level. Honestly, I think this will be the perfect book for those literary fans out there.
Celia and Kasey are really different from each other and the author shares that in several different ways. It’s there in the text as you read, but it’s also in the different POVs the characters’ perspectives are written. It’s in the way each chapter header begins and how they speak about each other. It really made you think that these two sisters couldn’t be any more different, but the one theme that both of them carry is this love for their sister and finding them.
The twist that eventually came in this book was so surprising and I felt like something was on its way towards that reveal while we were reading. The timelines didn’t make sense or something Kasey said wouldn’t align with what Celia said. It was an interesting play to keep the twist as hushed as possible, but the twist still got me and surprised me.
I will admit, this book isn’t perfect. There are some confusing parts and for much of the book I was wondering where all of this was going. It wasn’t too bad because I knew the author would take care of me, but it still bummed me out when the timelines jumped a lot and some of Kasey’s sections were a little over my head because they weren’t explained well. When I mentioned that the story is more literary, it also meant that there’s some of the classic SFF components that are lost like world-building. Like I mentioned, there’s a lot of trust involved with the author. You have to let her tell the story in her way and follow along the best you can. Then, you’ll see the overall picture and make you think much deeper than what’s happening in the story.
Overall, a captivating story about two sisters on the search for each other. Knowing these sisters is a whole other level as you’re learning not only who they are, but how they think, how they understand and perceive the world, and how much they truly love each other. This was my first book from Joan He and I’m honestly excited to try out more from her in the future.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. My opinions have not been influenced by the author or the publisher.