Content Warning: terminal illness, suicide, violence (including choking), death, death of parent (offpage), vomiting, largescale natural disasters and mass casualties, some gore.
One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.
Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most
I received an ARC from the publisher Roaring Book Press/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group as part of the The Ones We’re Meant to Find book tour through TBR and Beyond Tours
I’ve seen this book all over my Twitter feed and I’m honestly still surprised I was able to get my hands on it, but I’m so so glad I did because wow! What a delightfully intimate, heart-wrenching character-driven story about relationships new and old, lost and found. And with such fantastic plot twists!! (This review will be spoiler-free).
Through this book, we follow sisters Kasey and Celia who, through mysterious circumstances, find themselves separated. Cee, living one of Earth’s many sky-cities, is convinced her sister is dead. Kay, who’s found herself washed ashore of an abandoned island, is determined to find a way back to her sister. I loved the intimate focus on their frankly messy relationship, especially the spotlight on Cee. The two sisters carry a lot of baggage and He unravels those dirty secrets, those pained memories, masterfully.
I particularly found myself resonating with Cee, social introvert and science genius. Early on, she struggles with the disappearance of her sister, but instead of the pain of the loss of her sister, she confronts an emptiness, a lack of feeling. I’ve personally faced similar situations with the exact same reactions and asked myself the same questions and the nuanced exploration of this feeling was delightful. Cee’s tone might come off as dead or unfeeling to some, but I assure you that tone is so so accurate in this situation and I’m in awe at how well He has managed to capture and depict that emotion.
The storytelling is laid out in one of my favorite formats, told in alternating chapters between Kay and Cee’s POVs, where details from one storyline will answer questions brought up three chapters ago in the other. He really does a masterful job of keeping the reader fully engaged, teasing information as one goes, and building an ever-growing sense of unease as you slowly realize certain details aren’t aligning properly. Without going into spoilers, I will just say the plot twists here are just amazing, truly re-contextualizing the story with every turn.
This is the second eco-focused/solarpunk novel I’ve read this March and I’m really loving this trend. The Ones We’re Meant to Find is set on an Earth humanity has brought to the brink of destruction, and humans have had to resort to cities in the sky to escape mega earthquakes and massive tsunamis. Of course, with space in these sky cities a scarcity, every person carries a rank based on their impact, and their ancestors, on the planet. There’s a subtle underlying dystopian vibe I wish was explored more, but He chooses to play it straight, instead focusing mainly on the character relationships
Overall, I rate this book a 4.5/5. He uses this eco-dystopian setting to intimately explore a complex, messy relationship between two sisters, told in alternating POVs that layer details on details into a delightful story!
About the Author
Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the Delaware River. Descendant of the Crane is her debut young adult fantasy.
r/Fantasy 2021-2022 Bingo Squares:
- 1st Person POV
- Mystery Plot (hard mode)
- Published in 2021
Publication Date: 4 May 2021
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: eBook, ARC
Word Count: ~81,000
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound | Goodreads |