‘A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
It will take the team 23 years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.’
I love novels that are character driven and take the time to explore the different facets of their cast – and so different facets of what it means to be human – and Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is a book that does this well. It might not be what some desire in terms of a speedy plot, but to have a more elaborate and fast-paced plot unfolding at the same time as that which is dedicated to character development would be to draw focus from the novel’s strengths.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? focuses on a group of young people who have been in training to go into space and journey to a new Earth, sacrificing decades of their lives in an effort to ensure that mankind has another planet to colonise. Their decisions to attempt to join this mission have been made at a very young age, often in their early teens, and is one that influences their schooling and socialisation from the minute they become involved – if a candidate is successful. Some elements of this decision process and description of the schooling involved is reflected on by the characters as their mission date approaches, inviting the reader to question the ethics of those in-charge and at which stage of desperation for survival should it ever become appropriate to allow young people to sacrifice their futures for the ‘greater good’. Though each of the characters does their best to be an adult and the symbol of hope that the world wants them to be, there are many moments where they are undeniably children who have led rather sheltered lives, their facades apt to crack and crumble as reality hits them. It’s these moments in the book that are among the most interesting, as subjects such as depression, sexuality and isolation are explored through the eyes of characters discovering themselves just as they sacrifice themselves.
There are a good many characters whose points of view (in third person) are used to explore a range of different and often difficult topics, from suicide and mental health to the implications of loneliness and the concept of a life set on an inescapable path. Initially, it’s a little difficult to keep track of which character is which, but, as the novel continues, they become much more distinct and well-developed, particularly as they begin to interact with each other in smaller groups. In the same vein, there is some brilliant description, particularly in sections involving Astrid and/or Juno, yet sometimes passages involving action seem a touch muddled, making it difficult to track exactly what is going on. However, as mentioned previously, the focus on character development throughout the novel more than makes up for this, and I would have happily spent much longer reading about each of them. It’s rare that I find a book with so many different points of view that can be equally enjoyed, which I believe is another one of the novel’s great successes.
Ultimately, I enjoyed Do You Dream of Terra-Two? and would happily read another instalment – which I hope there is!
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Pub date: 7th March 2019
I received a copy of Do You Dream of Terra-Two? from Netgalley and the publisher.