Spoiler Free Review
Title: Do You Dream of Terra-Two?
Author: Temi Oh
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: March 7th 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
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.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is a fun standalone book about space exploration. Don’t let my three star rating disguise how much I enjoyed this. I found it really addictive. I mean, I read it in roughly 2 days after a two-week reading slump. So I have this book to thank for reviving my enjoyment for reading!
This book is set a slightly alternative Earth to our own. It might not appear drastically different at first, but Temi Oh has created an alternative history to tell her story. She embeds fictional history moderately throughout to aid the story. It was equal parts fascinating and enjoyable, and I appreciated not being subjected to info-dump. I was amazed at the creativity of the world-building. It made the story feel unique, yet believable and authentic for a story about space exploration that is not currently possible in real life. (That we know of yet?!)
This book is told through six point of views; Jesse, twins Juno and Astrid, Poppy, Eliot and Harry. They are the young graduates of the prestigious Dalton Academy, chosen to join the Damolces crew with four veteran astronauts and venture to Terra-Two. The Dalton Academy is a school founded to train generations of astronauts, engineers and employees of the UK Space Agency. Once Terra-Two was discovered, children with an aptitude for physics and biology were encouraged to enrol in an accelerated course of study at the academy in London.
The years spent at the Academy don’t sound anything less than punishing. But the hard years aren’t over, and this journey continues to test each and every one of the characters in different ways. I loved reading about the characters grow into themselves as well as into a team.
→ Juno Juma ←
Trainee Medical Officer for the Damolces crew. Juno is ½ of the Kenyan twins selected for the journey. More studious and dour than her twin, Juno is also one of the more pragmatic members of the crew. She was a wholesome and grounding character.
→ Astrid Juma ←
Junior Astrobiologist for the Damolces crew. Astrid is the other ½ of the Kenyan twins selected for the journey. Astrid is prone to fits of breathy giggles in the back of assembly and is easily more idealistic than her twin Juno. She also has an incredibly curious mind, making her stand out amongst the crew.
→ Jesse Solloway ←
First Alternate Beta for the Damolces crew. Jesse wasn’t one of the original six flying to Terra-Two and consequently feels like he as something to prove to the original crew. He firmly believes he’s meant to be apart of the Damolces crew and works his hardest to prove it.
→ Poppy Lane ←
Head of Communications and In-flight Correspondent for the Damolces crew. Poppy is a hyper-polygot who can speak twenty-three languages. She was one of the members that no one really anticipated being chosen and coming from a lower class family made Poppy feel a bit out of place at Dalton. Depression hits Poppy hard aboard the Damolces ship and she must learn to adjust to the life she’s chosen. Her sensitive soul and empathetic nature was endearing and I think I enjoyed her chapters most.
→ Eliot Liston ←
Junior Flight Engineer the Damolces crew. Eliot is a reclusive programmer and is incredibly talent at what he does. Although Eliot is grieving the loss of his girlfriend. He cannot fathom this mission without her and begins to suffer from hallucinations caused by PTSD.
→ Harry Bellgrave ←
Pilot and Commander in Training the Damolces crew. Everyone suspected Harry would make it, he’s popular, rich, good-looking and talented. Although he has a temper, and when faced with pressure makes you question whether he’s fit to take over as Commander of the crew. For the most part, Harry is positioned as being unlikable. I was constantly conflicted over his character due to his relationship with Poppy. Their interactions are flirty and vulnerable at times too, helping shed a favourable light on him.
This book is all about character exploration. If you’re a character driven reader, this story might be right up your alley. If you have an expectations of an action packed science fiction book, prepared to be disappointed. The authors primary focus was exploring the dynamics of the young Damocles crew on their voyage to Terra-Two.
Some of the young astronauts also enter romantic relationships with one another. Objectively, it fits into the story perfectly and doesn’t overshadow the important parts of the plot. Personally I would’ve love to have seen a bit more romantic moments – but that is just me. I know there are a lot of readers who will prefer the route Temi Oh has taken with the romances here.
There are definitely characters that feel more important to the story than others. Jesse, Juno and Astrid’s individual arc’s are expected to carry the story, consequently they have more chapters from their POV. Whilst I enjoyed their perspectives just fine, I think with such a slow moving plot I would’ve preferred a more consistent rotation of POVs.
Temi Oh’s writing style more than makes up for the books slow moving plot. I found it satisfyingly vivid and beautifully descriptive. I felt so engaged in the characters lives and really wanted to see their journey through with them.
I do wish I had known this book was going to be slow burn story largely about characters. I definitely had expectations it would be more action packed, solely based on the fact it was set in space. Otherwise, I think a lot of the intrigue should be kept secretive, this story is best enjoyed when you go in knowing very little as there isn’t a lot going on here (except character moments).
Despite some expectations not being bet, I still enjoyed this journey I went on with these characters. It was insightful, tension driven and atmospheric. Readers who enjoy young adult stories and character driven plots set in Space should consider this – just be aware there is a very mild amount of action.
I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future, because this was truly an excellent debut novel!