Author: Phoebe North
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary: 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.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so deeply confused by my feelings about a book before. Seriously, I’ve been sitting here for like fifteen minutes just trying to figure out what to say and what rating to give this one. Gah.
Okay well I just need to start this off by saying that I honestly know nothing about Jewish people or their religion. And this book is about a space ship full of Jews trying to preserve their religion and find a new planet to live on. So there was bound to be some confusion on my part. Just within like three pages I was frantically trying to figure out who this Abba guy is and where he randomly popped out of, before I realized that apparently Abba is the Jewish word for father? So she calls him father or Abba and I was thinking they were two separate people… And this point I knew this book was going to be a long one for me.
Except I was actually completely wrong. The author was so strong in her world building that I understood things to the point where I could actually picture it out in my mind. And I kind of liked this world, cliché as it was. Which it totally was. The whole group of rebels on the ship, fighting to gain their freedom from the wealthy rulers, has been used way too many times. Except, it worked here. It worked because the rules that the people were fighting against (to marry whomever they please be it male or female, to give birth to children, to choose their own jobs, etc.) made sense to have on the space ship, to ensure the survival and growth of the population and to keep everything equal and to make sure all the jobs that needed to be done were done. But it made sense for the people to fight for them too, so homosexuality could be allowed and passions could be pursued and people could be free. The author actually made me feel conflicted because I wanted them to have freedom and to love who they wanted, but at the same time, this was a ship built for survival, and the rules guaranteed that.
Also, Terra was a great character. She was horrible and stupid and defiant and made mistakes and I found her to be very realistic. Her life was hard and she knew it and she hated people and was scared of her thoughts and feelings and she only wanted to find herself. She wasn’t a badass with karate skills or a beautiful princess with a huge and loving heart, or adorable and witty, she was just normal.
I feel like the thing I liked about this book wasn’t really the plot line but more the feelings it evoked and the mental images I got from it. The plot line was really nothing amazing, it was predictable and not very original and the romance was just weird and fast paced at best, and I had no concerns for her boys or love life at all. But I feel like I enjoyed certain parts that she wrote more than others, like Terra’s dreams or when she would think about herself and her thoughts or duties.
I have nothing against religion. I just don’t often read books with big time religious undertones or characters because I either miss half of the moral of the story, or I just get annoyed. I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. One bit. So I honestly went into this book thinking I was going to hate every second of it. Except, it wasn’t even a tiny bit preachy or pushy or offensive. It was one of best examples of properly blending religious morals and their cultures and values into a good story. I was thoroughly impressed. Kudos, Ms. North. You have gained my respect.
This was a book that I found myself thinking about a lot in the day that I finished it, but I couldn’t really figure out what it was about it that touched me. The only problem is that the end was so… strange. If you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And it was strange to the point where, I enjoy a good romance, but the thought of this one might be too far for me and it kind of turns me off from the next book. I honestly don’t know if I’ll read it, especially since the plot line in this one was so bland.