Nothing is the least bit forced or overly clever in this winning coming-of-age story, a seamless blend of concept, plot and characterization. Chena Trust grows up on an overcrowded space station where her family has had to toil endlessly to make enough money to pay for their air. When she finally moves down to Pandora, the planet around which the station orbits, she has to work even harder than on the space station to pay for her upkeep and has to endure the humiliation of communal showers; in addition, force fields keep her away from the native Pandoran wild life. She has no idea how lucky she is. On all the other worlds humanity has colonized, the people are dying of horrible mutations as their planets' biospheres fall apart. The Hothousers who rule Pandora, and have made protecting the biosphere their mission, are dragged into using genetic engineering to help the rest of humanity overcome the "diversity crisis." An essential part of the Eden plan involves the Trust family, but they are unwilling to cooperate. Zettel (The Quiet Invasion) masterfully creates her world and allows her adolescent protagonist to mature slowly and logically. The plot moves along nicely, but at times Pandora's general serenity seeps into the main story and smothers some of the tension.
Forecast:The strong female protagonists in this work will appeal to many, and there will be some YA appeal as well. While this novel won't go flying off the shelves, its catchy title may help to get it into a solid number of hands.
About the author
Sarah Zettel (born December 14, 1966) is an American science fiction, fantasy and mystery author.
Zettel was born in Sacramento, California. Her mother, Gail Beavers, is a retired teacher and social worker; her father, Leonard Francis Zettel, Jr., is a retired engineer and programmer. She obtained a B.A. in Communications from the University of Michigan. She is married to a rocket scientist. She currently lives in Michigan.
Zettel published her first short story in 1988. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 won (tied) the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Writing as C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel.