So with a premise like that, what could possibly go wrong?
Not much, as it turns out. This was a really gripping, interesting book that had me guessing the whole way though and ultimately left me breathlessly wishing for more. I'm trying to think of anything that went wrong with it at all and I'm coming up blank. It was just a really good read from beginning to end.
The MC, Romy, has lived in space her whole life. Her parents were the caretakers of a colony ship and had her while aboard before dying when she was eleven. So now Romy is literally the lonliest girl in the universe, on track to Earth II with hundreds of embryos that will grow into the people who will start to populate the new planet.
I liked that there was no big dystopian reason for humanity to be travelling to another planet. Things on Earth seemed just fine when Romy's parents left. NASA is still a thing. Technology has moved on, but not massively. It all felt really real and believable.
Then Romy is contacted by another space ship, also headed to Earth II. The (young, hot) commander makes contact with her and over time-delayed emails they fall in love.
And this is basically the bit that made my flesh creep. The book is a fantastic sci-fi adventure, but it's also a metaphor for every toxic / abusive / gaslight relationship I've ever heard about. You have someone who is incredibly vulnerable latching on to literally the first person they see no matter the cost to themselves. It's also a metaphor (although not that much of a metaphor) on children being groomed over the internet.
I have to say, Lauren James is such a good writer. She just sits down and tells a story and makes it look so easy. She doesn't use loads of flash-bang, or lyrical metaphor or whatever, because she doesn't need to. The words she uses speak for themselves and she just tells the hell out of that story.
I've read Lauren James' Next Together duology and the attached novella, and like that series this was science-based but without being infodumpy or going into masses of unnecessary, boring, incomprehensible detail. It's like, we don't need to know exactly how a spaceship works. We just need to know that it does. And that's what Lauren James does.
It was cinematic, too. I could totally see this being picked up and made into a film. Maybe not a massive summer blockbuster, but definitely a really good, competent film.
The plot was really solid, with a good arc, twists and a decent ending.
Yeah, I'd definitely recommend this to pretty much anyone. It was fab.