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(Planetfall #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  10,638 ratings  ·  1,580 reviews
From the award-nominated author Emma Newman, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that visi
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Ace/Roc
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Mark Cofta Definitely science fiction. The author speculates believably about future tech and how it could be tied to biology rather than refined metals and plas…moreDefinitely science fiction. The author speculates believably about future tech and how it could be tied to biology rather than refined metals and plastics, as well as how a society meant to be equal and democratic might function when everyone is linked via built-in net connections.
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
David Foster To be honest I read it without realising it was part of a series.
I was happy with the ending, really liked the book but I don't feel a rush to get th…more
To be honest I read it without realising it was part of a series.
I was happy with the ending, really liked the book but I don't feel a rush to get the next installment as things felt sufficiently resolved for me with Ren finding things resolved for herself...however I know people who would feel that not answering the big questions is like stopping a story mid sentence.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  10,638 ratings  ·  1,580 reviews

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Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
What struck me most about this traditional SF novel was the level of personal experience worked onto the page. Personal tragedy was used so well as to ring a strong measure of emotional immediacy, even anguish, into what would have been a normally decent and workmanlike novel of societal deceit and colonialism, even extreme isolationalism.

When she goes deep into the loss of her loved one, it was strong, but it became almost alien, at least to me, when the ethos of hoarding meets the needs of the
Rina Iosad
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. It seems I'm one of the very few people who didn't like the book. I had a nagging thought while reading this that everything was very familiar and I've seen the whole setting somewhere else. Now I get it: this is Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" in a book form. Seriously, think about it: message with directions to somewhere - check, scientists going there looking for God - check, creepy alien structure - check, main character keeping faith against all odds - check. And so on. Unfortunately ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Long story short: I loved Planetfall…except the ending. If you’ve ever enjoyed a great book that you nonetheless had serious issues with, then you’d probably know what I’m feeling. I’m still fantastically happy I read it though, because it has an amazing premise; while it does take a while for events to unfold, following along as they do was half the fun.

The story opens on a world far from Earth. Protagonist Renata Ghali
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, scifi
"Am I just a mosaic of myself, held in the shape of a whole person?"

Planetfall is easily one of the most memorable books I've read this year. From the first page, it kept me captive until it wrenched my heart in two. The story is beautifully layered, with rich symbolism woven deeply into the plot. I found it incredibly difficult, yet utterly compelling. Planetfall raises intensely personal reactions, so I don't know what it will mean for you. Maybe it will provide a glimpse of the struggle o
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure about this book at first. It starts slow but then it builds and builds to this remarkable crescendo. Ren is a visengineer who is the master printer on a colony. But she also has a secret she shares with Mack, the colony leader. There is some fascinating world building here but a lot of this world is presented as fact. Bold authorial choice that. The ending had me breathless but it also felt rushed. There is this major twist that I wanted to see fleshed out more. Nonetheless this is ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, sci-fi
A handful of interesting ideas buried in a mostly boring, flat narrative.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Fascinating premise, well executed but let down by a mediocre last act and an incredibly poor ending.

Ren is a key member of a exoplanet colony founded by a cult. The people of the colony came to this world following a prophet named Lee Suh-Mi who claims that this world is where God lives. She's actually led them to a bizarre biotechnological construct that the colony refers to as God's City, but Suh-Mi hasn't been seen since very early after colonization. It's 22 years since planetfall and now R
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hooray for Emma Newman!

The author begins her Planetfall series with this very entertaining and original first contact story first published in 2015.

Full disclosure! I committed aggravated SF series heresy by reading these completely out of order. I read the third book first, then the second, then this one. Good news is I am now reading the most recent so I’m all caught up but in unorthodox fashion.

That said, and from an unusual perspective, I have even more appreciation for what Newman has acco
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, sci-fi
I am not too sure what to make of this one. I only finished listening to the audio version an hour ago and I am not sure what I should even write about to be honest. And I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing! I feel a bit lost!

Over twenty years ago, Ren and the other colonists travelled from a dying Earth, to find a new planet. The events that led to them finding the planet appeared as though humans were destined to travel there. However, Ren is harbouring some dark secrets that could un
Cheryl struggles to catch up
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I generally don't give five stars to books that I don't guess to have a more universal appeal. But GR uses the word 'amazing' and this book is that, so here you go.

Great discussion here (my 'review' is at comment 69):

Adding the next books to my to-read lists.

Second read. Intricate, shattering, and beautiful, just like the cover art promises.
Even on my second read I'm not satisfied that I sufficiently understand & appreciate it.
(Back to the discussion and
Kameron Hurley
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Newman has crafted a thrilling tale of murder, mystery and madness on a world where humanity is still its own worst enemy. Horrifying and heartbreaking in equal measure, the catastrophe driving this narrative will keep you riveted until the very last page. Don’t miss this one.
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
ALRIGHT, let's do this!

Seanan McGuire said:

“Planetfall is gripping, thoughtful science fiction in the vein of Tiptree or Crispin. Emma Newman has crafted a story that turns inward on itself in a beautiful spiral; the written equivalent of the golden mean. I have been waiting for this book for a very long time.”

I have no idea what that means, but I really like McGuire, so *crosses fingers*
Allison Hurd
Hm! That was...abrupt. The feel of this book was perfect--the protagonist's illness, her coping mechanisms for the things that haunted her, the busybody camaraderie of a new settlement. But the story itself left me wanting.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-Ren. So sympathetic. Snarky and conflicted, strong but not invincible. You
I began reading this book with high expectations, and mostly enjoyed the first third of it. Emma Newman’s vision of how technology might evolve so that a colony creates its society with minimal environmental impact is inspiring. And her compassionate portrayal of a narrator who’s riddled with anxiety rings true, for the most part.

But throughout, I kept chafing against the nagging feeling that Newman was manipulating the narrative, especially regarding the parceling out of information on the eve
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a very unusual SF novel about a group of people on a far way planet with a mission. Sounds like a well worn trope, but it is just a background, the true story is about a protagonist :) I was surprised that the book has not got nominations or awards, for it is clearly worth it.

The story starts, when the protagonist, a woman named Ren, receives an urgent message that someone arrived from outside the camp, where no one should have been. She and a group leader Mack meet that person, who has
Jenny (Reading Envy)
When a podcast guest recommended another book in this series, she said I didn't have to start at the beginning but I did anyway. It's about a colony on an alien planet, a engineer/builder named Ren who specializes in 3D printing and has fashioned most of the colony herself, and secrets that she's kept for years. It all unravels in interesting ways leading to a conclusion I couldn't have seen coming and makes me very curious about the next book. There is a unique look at mental illness here that ...more
May 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Planetfall is generally a good novel, but was also a frustrating read for me. I liked the novel's protagonist and narrator, Renata Ghali, and the way she interacts with her environment while managing a severe anxiety disorder is engrossing.

But Planetfall is also a mystery story, and this is where I have problems. The novel is set in a distant space colony, and the main mystery revolves around what happened during the titular event years before. Something went wrong, people died. A complex lie w
Liz Barnsley
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prior to reading “Planetfall” I’d heard it described as intelligent science fiction – having finished it I think that is probably the best way of putting it. Planetfall is at it’s very heart a character study examining the human condition – the fact that it is set on an alien planet just brings that home rather than setting it apart – in a beautifully emotional prose Emma Newman shows what happens when a community is both brought together and ripped apart.

Ren is a purely fascinating character –
I was prepared to give this two stars but the story finally picked up (or I started to get it) in the final third. Absolutely enjoyed the technology, the organic BDO aspect (also getting some Vandermeerian feel here) and most of all, the way the MC was written. I was not expecting to read about depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a bunch of mental health issues I was not able to identify. That part was engaging. Plus, I always have a soft spot for an older/mature woman as MC.

My problem with the book
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Am I just a mosaic of myself, held in the shape of a whole person?”

Planetfall is not an easy book to review. At first glance, this is a scifi story focusing on a small human colony on another planet. Slowly, we are introduced to the technology that allows them to live there, which is fascinating, from their methods of communication to their living quarters.

However the novel is much more than that. From the first page, we follow Renata, the 3-D engineer, who is key to the group’s survival. The f
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
4.5 stars

This book is quite deceptive in the way it lures you in with thinking there's just something in the past that is this tragic secret, bla bla omg, and the author just doesn't want you to know it yet to build tension, and that is going to be the only story line of note. Not that there aren't tragic secrets, there are tragic secrets galore, but as reader you go from 'yeah, yeah, just tell me already so we can move on' to 'what the fuck is going on here?'. And meanwhile, almost without real
Kitty G Books
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-2017
Well...this book blew my mind in a few different places. I went into this with the expectation of enjoying the book becuase so many of my friends who have read it and have similar taste to me have already said it was great. I also had heard that this story dealt with sci fi, mystery and mental health, and stood on its own as a story - that's quite an impressive claim - and I do think it does all of these things!

In this story we follow a character called Renata who has travelled with a group of i
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 'why-didn't-i-read-this-sooner' stars

When, as a rule, you don't read book blurbs, it seems silly to say a book isn't what you expected. However, that is my overwhelming feeling about this book.

I thought we'd face colonizing, engineering and social challenges, but the challenges are much more psychological in nature. Instead of getting a better understanding of the new planet humanity has discovered, the reader is firmly placed in the head of Ren...and what an interesting and unsettling plac
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2015
One chapter into Planetfall, two things were abundantly clear: this book was going to be very different from the Split Worlds books and Emma Newman had leveled up as a writer. The first proved to be true, and although I found the Split Worlds books more enjoyable and satisfying, I admire Newman for stretching herself here.

Planetfall looks into a future where 3-D printing can be used for just about anything (even food, though some people prefer cooking the old-fashioned way) and social media/onli
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 2019-re-read, 2016
Intense, memorable, and deeply captivating, Planetfall manages to be character-driven and idea-filled without sacrificing action and suspense. The story involves space travel, an off-Earth colony 20-some years after its establishment in the shadows of a (mostly) abandoned alien structure, the biology-linked religious beliefs that inspired the colony’s creation, a first person narrator coping with and trying to hide her anxious obsessions, and life enhanced (or maybe diminished) by advanced techn ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
3.5 that I am rounding up to 4 stars, because I totally loved numerous aspects of this book. The science, the colony, characters, the underlying mystery - but I felt that it was also a tad uneven and I simply wanted more from the plot. The resolution was not entirely satisfactory to me.
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
4.5 stars.

Let's start with technology which in this book feel realistic.Two technologies that are main focus here.3-D printers didn't get lot of screen time in other books but here they are used for making practically anything and that makes sense, while 3-D printed medicine and food seem bit far fetched but more general use isn't that hard to imagine since they are used today to make machine parts, tools and many other things.Augmented reality on the other hand featured in many other books (mos
Peter Tillman
There's an odd little compound near Sedona, Arizona, with a series of egg-shaped pods stuck on end, amid the red rocks, painted in bright colors. That's the image that came to mind for the space-travelers' City of God. And Carmen's sparkly kitchen (and pod) would have fit well into Ballard's Vermilion Sands. I'm just getting into the weird religion of the Pathfinder, and having my doubts about the novel.

Rina has a good 2-star review at
Character problems:
Megan Baxter
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked up Planetfall more or less randomly, not knowing what to expect. I had the feeling that it was young adult, but the story within didn't seem YA at all - older characters for one, but also deep dives into mental illness and trauma that I had not been expecting. Best of all, this all felt done well, and urgently, and the story pressing. Honestly, it was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I admit that I was actually expecting more of a pure sci-fi. The first third or so really is, with people having founded a colony on this planet. There's really cool tech, with everything being printed and absolutely everything gets recycled. And then things get odd. I admit that both of the major twists that I didn't predict were a bit off in that they were no longer sci-fi elements. In the end, I thought it was a really fascinating story that explored multiple ideas ...more
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Emma Newman writes dark short stories and science fiction and urban fantasy novels.

'Between Two Thorns', the first book in Emma's Split Worlds urban fantasy series, was shortlisted for the BFS Best Novel and Best Newcomer awards.

Emma's latest book, Planetfall, is a standalone science fiction novel published by Roc.

Emma is a professional audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-no

Other books in the series

Planetfall (4 books)
  • After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)
  • Before Mars (Planetfall, #3)
  • Atlas Alone (Planetfall #4)

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