Planetfall by Emma Newman

I read this book based largely on the Emma Newman's entry on The Big Idea. I'm conflicted on how I feel about it. I either hate or love it depending on how I interpret the ending.  What she set out to do, write a character based science fiction story centered around the main character's (Ren's) mental illness, she did beautifully. For that, this book gets top marks. I felt empathy for Ren when I realized what illness she had, rage at the reactions of those around her, and awe at the details of the big reveal and how I had misinterpreted the hints leading up to it. If the book had ended in the middle of the crisis on a cliffhanger or had resolved differently (everything is terrible, done), I'd be championing this book to everyone who would listen to me.

- Spoilers below -

...

- You were warned -

Unfortunately, the ending completely ruined the book for me on my first pass. If it wasn't my kindle, I'd have thrown the book after finishing it. The shift in narrative was jarring and the end state unsatisfying. If the ending played out as described, I'd rate the book 1/5 stars. On writing this review though I realize an alternate interpretation that makes it somewhat better. Over the course of the book we've follow a broken character with mental illness rooted in a traumatic event long in the past. The climax is similarly traumatic for Ren and perhaps the ending didn't happen. It was sufficiently surreal and an extension of her thoughts leading up to it that perhaps we closed simply watching her break further and further while trying to reconcile the events of the past. With that view, it's a much better book, 4/5 stars.

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