Day 115 on an Alien World by Jeannette Bedard

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SPSFC DISCLAIMER: I am just one judge of six over on team Tar Vol On for SPSFC. The fate of each book is in many hands, and my opinion is my own. Thanks for reading!

REVIEW: The opening scene is from the perspective of a husband watching his wife die in an accident on a colonizing mission to another planet. The emotional weight of the situation is complicated since it was an arranged marriage based on personality types and specialties needed for the new colony. It made for a very interesting opening that caught my immediately.

Gary is the husband and Margo is the wife, we get to see Gary in “real time”, while he reads through her diary to try and get to know her since they only just met each other a few months prior. It creates two different timelines, but I would say the book spends much longer in the past than it does in the ‘present’, and that Margo is the main character rather than Gary. While Margo was alive Gary wanted nothing to do with her. He’s really judgmental and keeps commenting on all the little physical imperfections she could ‘fix’ with a few quick medical procedures. He finds her slovenly, undignified, and not at all someone he would want to be married to. Throughout reading her journal he figures out that he is in-fact an asshole, and he feels bad about it. He goes from being a painfully unsympathetic character to one I could kind of like by the end of it. That was intentional and how much you like him by the end will vary a bit, I’d expect.

Margo is a bug person, she’s the team’s entemologist and I liked her a lot, she was an easy cahracter to invest in, which was strange since the reader watched her die in chapter one. She’s a quiet person, rather mild mannered and loves butterflies.

Margo finds herself wrapped up in an unexpected twist of events… people start dying on the mission. Not just one or two accidents, but over the course of the first month or so they’d lost over a dozen people. Different accidents for different people, but it’s discovered that there’s a saboteur aboard, and the rest of the plot tries to figure out who it is and what motivations they could have for wanting to make sure the mission failed. She has a hidden past, too, which is sort of a subplot. I found that it actually didn’t work well for me, either. There was a lot of build up for what I felt was kind of an anticlimactic reveal as to how/why she got dishonorably discharged from the military and how it all went down.

I found that I immediately liked the prose/writing style and it stood out to me as being in the top tier of our batch early on. I think it’s an understated talent to make something “easy to read” but not feel like it’s simple or written for a young audience. There are more visuals and descriptive turns of phrase that painted a picture quickly without spending too much time on mundane details that slow down the story. I felt the dialogue was natural and unforced, and it wasn’t full of future slang that can drive me absolutely bananas.

I would recommend this to people who like early space exploration, colonization, inter personal tensions, and murder mysteries.

Ratings:

  • Plot: 12.25/15
  • Characters: 12.5/15
  • World Building: 11/15
  • Writing: 12.5/15
  • Pacing: 11/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Enjoyment: 8/10

Final Score: 78.25/100