Author: Phoebe North
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 448 pages
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.
But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.
This book was a well-written sci-fi/dystopian. The world-building was solid (although I did have questions about how they got the raw materials for everything they had on the ship and how it was produced), and the characters were fleshed out and complex. Terra, the MC, is a sixteen year old girl who lost her mother when she was twelve. Since then she's been mostly alone since her father, who was always tough, has turned to alcohol and basically ignores Terra or is really hard on her. She doesn't really get along with her older brother, who left as soon as he turned sixteen and got married (they can get married as soon as they're sixteen and they're supposed to find someone by the time they're eighteen or someone is chosen for them). I felt really bad for Terra, she obviously had a difficult life. She wanted to be an artist, but on the ship there is a caste system where you are placed in a certain position (leader, laborer, specialist, etc.) and Terra is assigned to be a botanist. Coming home from work one evening, she stumbles across a murder and suddenly becomes aware and involved in a rebellion.
There are many sub-plots going on, including Terra's relationship with her father, her brother, her new boss, her best friend, Rachel, Koen, a boy who works for her father that she grows close to, and Silvan, Rachel's boyfriend who Terra's always had a crush on (with two guys you think there would be more romance but be warned there really are no swoony moments). Terra's personal life and personality driven conflicts are more of the focus throughout most of the book, with the rebellion plot line becoming more important toward the end.
The book is more focused on the characters rather than action, but it was well-paced and interesting, and the action does pick up after the first half. The ending is rather abrupt, pretty much in the midst of the action, which was annoying. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.
Posted by: Pam