When done well, there is no genre I love more than science fiction – I’m not sure why except there is something about a cracking well-told tale out in the stars that speaks uniquely to my soul… I loved Planetfall and After Atlas – so would this final instalment live up to the astonishing standard Newman has set so far?
After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team. But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake.
Once again what hooked and then held me, is Newman’s nuanced and layered characterisation. I found Anna a deeply poignant character, who ends up on Mars as much because she is escaping her former life, rather than due to the fact that joining the tiny colony has been a lifetime’s achievement. Her struggles to come to terms with her post-natal depression, which prevented her from fully bonding with her baby really held me – it is an issue which isn’t written about nearly enough in SFF. Kudos to Newman for providing such a sympathetic, poignant insight into the struggles some women encounter in the weeks, months and years after having a baby.
I’m conscious that I’ve managed to make this one sound like it’s all about a rather broken woman wandering around and agonising about the baby she has left behind on Earth. While that is a minor story strand – actually, this book is a tense thriller whereby the newest visitor to a small scientific community cannot shake the sense that something is very badly wrong… I had figured out some of what is going on – but as ever, Newman has a number of other twists I didn’t see coming.
In addition, there is a strong supporting cast featuring the other characters who are also on the Mars base alongside Anna. I really appreciate the fact that there are no out and out villains – and the one character who has not behaved particularly well comes across as weak and out of their depth, rather than evil. As ever, after I put this one down, I found myself constantly thinking about it – and wondering how I’d feel in the same situation.
Like the other two books, this one can comfortably be read as a standalone. In fact, I’m not sure it wouldn’t be more satisfactory to do so – after that amazing cliff-hanger ending of After Atlas I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. I generally don’t reread anything – there are too many other fabulous books out there waiting for me. But this is the first time in a long while I’ve been strongly tempted to read through the whole trilogy, one after the other… Highly recommended for anyone who loves a gripping adventure featuring a well written, complex protagonist.
Love seeing that “10” rating, Sarah! Im even more excited to read this now. I didn’t really know what this was about, but now I’m curious to read about a woman dealing with leaving a baby behind. That sounds awful!
It isn’t innately grim – it has lots of tension. I was interested in how differently Newman approaches her adventuring…
I should try and get to book 2 and 3 fairly soon. Great review and encouraging to see 10/10.
Oh do. They are all good, but the last two are very strong.
I haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, but wow, this one sure sounds intense. I also love a complex protagonist so the thread about the post-natal depression that Anna is dealing with appeals to me as well. Great review!
Thank you, Suzanne:). It’s an amazing series – After Atlas was my alltime favourite read of last year… I found myself constantly thinking about it all through the year. And this one is another stunning read.
There may be a Planetfall series #4. According to Goodreads anyway. I hope so! Glad ye loved this one too. I own all three in paper form and will likely reread the whole series at some point. Such good writing.
x The Captain
Oh good! I do hope so – as you say, the writing is fabulous and it’s the first time in a long while I’ve been seriously tempted to reread a whole series.
Wow, just when I thought things could get any better after After Atlas. Now I can’t wait to start this one!
I absolutely loved it. She is an amazing writer.
I agree with all of this, and while I had a few minor issues with it I liked the book. Very thought- provoking, she seemed to handle Anna’s struggle w/ post natal depression very well, and of course those twists! Took me by surprise a couple times!
Yes – I was particularly impressed that AT LEAST we had a main protagonist with major issues around her experience as a mother. Being an aunt, mother and granny, I’ve been in the front line with two generations – and it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. So it was nice to see an aspect of that reflected in a sci fi adventure.
And those twists near the end certainly had my jaw dropping!
So glad you like this one, Sarah. The cover is beautiful. I’ve read book 2, but still need to read the first one!
As it happens, where this series is concerned, it really doesn’t matter as each book is designed to be read as a standalone.
Another author I’ve yet get around to. I find it somewhat amusing that as you go through book 1, then 2, and 3 (and even more) of a particular series, your reviews serve me as a reminder the series is on my radar.
I’m glad this one didn’t disappoint you, and maybe one day I’ll be able to share my own thoughts on it with you :).
Yes – this is one of my alltime favourite series – in case you didn’t pick that up from my gushing…:)