Title: The ones we’re meant to find
Author: Joan He
CW: Loss of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, apocalyptic setting
Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.
e-ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this. I just knew it had a stunning cover (seriously, have you seen HOW STUNNING THIS COVER IS??) and that I wanted to read something from that author (I do that a lot, read books without knowing anything about them… imo, it leads to a better reading experience).
We’re introduced to both Cee and Kasey, two sisters, one stuck in an island and the other stuck dealing with feelings of loss she doesn’t really know how to process. This is a hard sci-fi book, which means the tech plays a big part on it and can make the reading pace slower while you process everything.
That doesn’t take away from the beautiful writing style and how easy it is for the reader to connect with the headspaces of both our protagonists.
I was parts amazed and confused with the worldbuilding (not in a bad sense, it was just a bit of a whiplash to jump from the island to the rest of the world, even though there was tech in there too).
If you focus on the world, you find yourself with a book that makes an amazing job at analyzing the effects of climate change while keeping in touch with the human side. It’s obvious to see the dedication poured both into the ins and outs of the society they live in, how they got there and what’s behind everything, and the actual world building, both the physical and online aspects of it.
The plot is, when stripped of all the science terminology, a fight between the rational and emotional, which the plot-twists only build onto. The desire to be less of one, or to fulfill certain expectations and how, at the end, there’s no truthful way of being a human but you can’t disregard the power of neither. This does an amazing job at presenting us with the oldest question about human nature in a futuristic setting, while also reminding us about how hard it is to make it on your own and how important it is to feel accompanied and understood.
As for the characters, you’re presented with two completely different approaches to life. The combination of unreliable narrator and switching POVs makes for a remarkably interesting read in which you have an amnesic character trying to get back to the only thing she remembers and a character, trying to make sense of her emotions, which she feels are disconnected from everyone’s else, while uncovering some secrets that give an output to the way we see the future described.
I absolutely adored the fact that this focused on the relationship between two sisters and, while there’re some other characters, theirs was the strongest connection. The fact that we were allowed to see how they saw themselves and how the other thought of them adds a layer of reflection to an already well-fleshed portrait about family.
While I enjoyed both sisters POVs, I think I found Kasey much more interesting until things in Celia’s one started to get more active, and we got to see a situation that was more nuanced than I expected at first. I don’t really mind hard sci-fi, and I like learning about new technological settings, while I’m not big on survival anything, so that could be it.
I don’t think I had read a book that focused so much on climate-fiction yet, and it definitely felt like a wake-up call. This book doesn’t only invite us to reflect about climate change, privilege and consequences, it does so from a very science-oriented point of view, presenting solutions that can sound radical to us nowadays but that presents a future we’re approaching faster than we think if we don’t do anything to change it.
I will say I don’t think it’s a book for everyone. It can be confusing, slow, too science-heavy and too pessimistic for some people, even though there’s hope in there too. I will let you decide if it sounds like your kind of read.
*I was encouraged by a friend to get in when it was available, but I don’t know how comfortable I am with getting ARCs, giving I don’t have much of a platform yet, so I don’t think I will be requesting other books for a while.