Review: Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

This is a character-driven and captivating story that kept me thoroughly engaged until the very end. If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring the universe, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is a must-read!

About the Book

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK  |  Release Date: March 7, 2019 (UK)  |  Pages: 520
Genre: Young Adult, Science fiction  |  Format: Hardcover  |  Source: Publisher

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet meets The 100 in this unforgettable debut by a brilliant new voice.

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.

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My Review

Narrative style: third personPerspective(s): multiple (six)

Holy crap, I am so mad at myself for letting my copy languish on my bookshelf since February! This wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I loved it all the same. This is a character-driven and captivating story that kept me thoroughly engaged until the very end. If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring the universe, Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is a must-read!

The book is told from the perspectives of the six teenagers chosen to embark on a critical mission: travel to the habitable planet – known as Terra-Two – to lead the colonization efforts. Because it will take 23 years to even reach their new home, they are leaving everything and everyone they have ever known on Earth for the hope of a better tomorrow.

“We’re leaving behind a world where slavery happened. Two world wars. Genocide A world where people have used atomic bombs. Terra-two will be different. Better. We will make it better.”

I know what it is like to work really hard towards a goal, only to realize that it might not be what I want after all once I achieve that. Can you imagine agreeing to leave Earth and all your loved ones behind forever? Oh does a really good job of depicting the uncertainty and second-guessing that people in this situation would not doubt experience. Homesickness, depression, and personality clashes quickly crash in as the reality of their decision sets in.

“It occurred to Astrid, in a disembodied instant, that already this moment was accelerating away from her. In a second, being young and full of laughter and standing with all her friends on Earth would only be a memory. Nothing more than a memory ever again.”

The conversation about lasts teared me up. So much of this book is really a reflection on life and its experiences, the little things that we all take for granted that we inevitably miss the most when they are gone. Sure, leaving Earth behind to colonize a new planet to ensure the survival of the human race thing is an extreme most of us will never experience… but you know. Relatable.

I was expecting a book about the mission itself and creating the new world for humanity. But this is really about the journey, not the destination. Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is a character-driven story, following how each member of the Beta copes with their new reality in tight quarters hurtling through space with nine other people for 23 years.

As a Type A person, I really connected personally with Jesse. Oh nailed what it’s like to be a smart kid among smart kids, whose self-worth and identity is wrapped up in your intellect. All of the characters are so well-developed and feel like real people, and I feel like I became friends with them through reading the book. All of Astrid’s fond memories are of food, and that’s a freaking mood. Harry is the most Privileged White Boy you will read about, and we all know someone like Harry. (We don’t like Harry.)

The writing is engaging and beautiful. Despite not a lot actually happening in the book, it not only held my attention but held it in its clutches. I was totally just along for the ride, like a stowed away eleventh member of the team. I feel for each of the characters… well, except for Harry.

“In the darkness every fear has a face.”

The one thing that I didn’t like is the ending: it kind of came up out of nowhere and felt very anticlimactic to me. I was so invested in the characters and their journey, so it was a little disappointing to have the book end as it did. I would have loved another 50 to 100 pages to wrap things up a little nicer. Because let’s be honest: the book covers a few months. What does the future hold? Why is this left open? I get it’s probably because it’s about the journey but come on… we only got a few months of the journey!

The way depression is handled in the book made me a little sad, too. I think Oh did a good job depicting how in tight quarters with few people, everyone would slowly lose their patience and snap. I imagine being stuck on a spaceship with nine other people hurtling through space would be difficult, and someone laying in bed ignoring their chores for weeks would drive anyone mad. But they are friends and it makes me sad to see people struggling get tough loved as if depression can be cured with a good attitude. Like they knew this was a risk, why didn’t they bring SSRIs on the mission or something? Especially considering what happened right before takeoff. It really makes the reader question whether or not these kids were prepared for this journey. That the UK Space Agency rushed things to get a team on Terra-Two first, putting their crew at risk. I am bothered that the four older members of the crew didn’t intervene more. It seems like progress was put above the well-being of the Beta, and if that is something Oh was trying to depict I wish it had a more prominent role in the book.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two is an impressive and beautifully written debut novel that delves into some heavy topics. This is a book about humanity, exploration, and survival, and one I definitely recommend. This book made me cry, it made me think, and it made me want to dream of Terra-Two – a fresh start for humanity.

4.5 stars ✨ You can read my live reaction thread on Twitter.

Representation: biracial rep, black rep, Indian rep, Muslim rep, poverty rep
Content warnings: depictions of grief, depression, sexual abuse (and lack of consent), suicide

I received a finished copy from the publisher, Simon and Schuster UK, in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion nor the content of my review.

Have you read Do You Dream of Terra-Two yet, or is it on your TBR? It was recently released in the United States by Saga Press! What other space exploration books should I read?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

13 Comments

  1. Tracy

    November 28, 2019 at 3:21 PM

    gosh, what an awesome review! the premise of this book itself kind of gives me anxiety because of how stressful that must be! leaving everyone behind to be stuck in a ship with people for 23 years – yikes. It’s unfortunate that the ending didn’t show much of what will happen in the future cause 23 years is so long. I think I’d feel pretty disappointed with that too but that’s so good to hear of more books like this one really digging deeper into character development and exploring mental health in that kind of environment. Great post as always Kal <3

    1. Kal

      December 3, 2019 at 11:43 AM

      Tracy I feel you on the anxiety! I’ve always been obsessed with NASA and space, and used to dream about adventuring to other planets… but I never really thought about the sacrifice that would be, and the time. This was such a unique story and really touching because it explored that through the eyes of the main cast. Then again, is leaving to settle a new planet any different than early settlers to the US, etc? AND NOW I’VE SPIRALLED. Anyways, thanks so much for your comment!!! <3

  2. Evelyn

    November 28, 2019 at 11:47 PM

    I loved this book! I’m so happy you did as well!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    1. Kal

      December 3, 2019 at 11:48 AM

      Ahh, glad you also enjoyed this book! It wasn’t what I expected but I loved it.

  3. Mere

    November 29, 2019 at 5:38 AM

    I’ve never heard of this book! At some point I might have to give it a try once I get through my other million and ten books on my TBR list…

    1. Kal

      December 3, 2019 at 11:53 AM

      Yea this book seems to have flown under the radar, which is a damn shame. It was published earlier this year in the UK and a couple of months ago in the US (the US cover leaves much to be desired, though). I hope you enjoy if you pick it up!

  4. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    November 29, 2019 at 7:45 AM

    This is one of my favorite books of the year, and I loved everything about it, even the ending. So glad you loved it too!

    1. Kal

      December 3, 2019 at 11:55 AM

      I can see why you loved it so much, this was such a beautiful book! The ending is okay when I think about it, but I just wish there was some closure… even though the story really never was about them getting onto Terra-Two and starting a new society. But I would have loved if that had been included.

  5. Rameela Rizvi

    November 30, 2019 at 11:03 PM

    ohhh this sounds interesting!

    1. Kal

      December 3, 2019 at 12:01 PM

      It is such a unique read, and one I haven’t been able to stop thinking about!

  6. Krisha

    December 3, 2019 at 10:56 PM

    I hadn’t heard about this book until I saw your Twitter thread and I am so glad you loved it. It sounds like a super interesting and fun book. And honestly books about space always intrigue me. Great review, Kal. I will definitely be adding this to my TBR. 💛

  7. Haley

    December 4, 2019 at 2:50 AM

    This had been on my radar for a while, and I’m so glad I read your review because this book sounds perfect. The emotions and journey just sound so freakin’ poignant, and I need this in my life now. Another amazing review from you!

    1. Kal

      December 8, 2019 at 12:03 PM

      Ahhh, I hope you love the book as much as I do! This was such a unique read and one I wasn’t quite expecting, but I am glad I read it.

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