It's taken four hundred years of travel, but the starship Venture has finally arrived at its destination, Beta Earth, an uninhabited, untouched planet. The first night seventeen-year-old engineer Ursa is on Beta Earth, she encounters a dead body. She's positive she saw a large creature with sharp teeth, something that shouldn't even be on the planet, but nobody believes her. As injuries and bodies start piling up, Ursa must figure out who to trust when her fellow crewmates start taking sides between maintaining Venture's safety and the hope of creating a home on Beta Earth.
Born on a tiny island stuck to the south coast of England, Kate Blair has worked as a museum curator, a clown and at a theme park on the Jersey Shore. She's made furniture for the Sydney Olympic Village and been a cook on a ship on the Great Barrier Reef. She now lives in Toronto and is a young adult author, a mother of two small children, and very, very tired. Her first novel. Transferral, was nominated for MYRCA, Snow Willow Award and Sunburst Awards. It was optioned for TV and translated into French. Her second novel, Tangled Planet, is out in Canada in autumn 2017, and in the US in spring 2018.
I tend to only review books I've loved - which is why my reviews are mostly 5*.
Loved this newest book by Kate Blair, especially with the murder-mystery twist added to the science fiction aspect. Also loved that the 17-year-old main character, Ursa, is an engineer. Anyone who has had to deal with anxiety issues will identify with Ursa's challenges as she struggles to adapt to a new situation.
This book is hardcore sci-fi tangled with hints of horror, yet full of realistic and well-developed characters to make it feel like a peek into a believable future. I was honestly amazed at how GOOD this was, because I picked it up on a total whim. I thought I was in for a light, maybe-mediocre read . . . and then I got intense plot, absolutely STUNNING writing, amazing development of literally everything, and a plethora of fascinating, complicated, and refreshingly diverse characters.
I was also surprised by the MC, who at first I was slightly annoyed at . . . but then I realized that I GOT IT. She was so believable as someone dealing with anxiety over the unknown planet and the situations that had arisen from it. She was trying but she was also completely human and yet so fierce and yet so vulnerable, that I really just felt a connection with her like a fictional soul-sister.
And the romance was . . . not cliche?? This book literally takes any expectations you have of it, kinda makes a false start towards them, then spins around with a chuckle and drags everything in a completely different direction. I FREAKING LOVED IT!!
Ahhhhhhhhh what else to say about this magnificent, underrated book?? JUST READ IT OKAY
A delightful sci fi murder mystery YA read. I found the character and her actions believable. I loved her view thought the engineers eyes. Stronger than her previous book, I still would like more world building. Theres just more about the ship, its residents, that I would like to know about.
Four hundred years ago, a group of humans left Alpha Earth on a mission to Beta Earth, a planet just like Earth in another solar system. Generations lived and died on their ship, Venture, and they finally reach Beta Earth. Everything goes smoothly at first as they develop their farms, release animals, and start creating a civilization. However, one night Ursa, a seventeen-year-old mechanic, is driving a land bike to the ship’s shuttle on the planet when she sees a glint of teeth in the darkness and comes upon the body of her sister’s husband. She informs the protectors right away. However, after an investigation, she becomes the lead suspect in the murder. The crew is divided between those who believe in her innocence and those who think she is the murderer. Twenty years after Ursa’s ship set out for Beta Earth, a second ship named Venture 2 starts the journey to join them. However, its crew falls into civil war and their ship blows up in the conflict. Ursa knows her group must unite to avoid repeating the Venture 2 incident, but they also do not know who to trust when a murderer is lurking among them. This book is unique in that murder mysteries are typically either in the past or present. A murder mystery set in such a futuristic setting is much less common. The book is descriptive but not too gory so it will appeal to younger readers. I gave it four stars because while there are many twists and turns, betrayals and secret allies, I felt that there was too much crammed into the end of the book, making it slightly difficult to process in a short time frame, especially since it is a solo book and not a series. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to mature 5th graders as well as middle school and above. Reviewed by Alex F, age 16, Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa
I am a big fan of Blair's first book, Transferral, and made the effort to backdoor the system to get this one by ordering it from Amazon Canada since it won't be released in the U.S. for a few more months. As in many situations where my expectations are high, I have to wonder if that is a factor in why I can't rave about the book. Oh, sure, I enjoyed it while reading it, but in the end there is nothing unusual about it.
I was excited about the possibilities within the first few pages with the description of the Clearsighters who believed it was all a hoax and did themselves in at an airlock. What a great addition to the story of a long space flight! What's more, it was something I hadn't read before AND it felt like such a great reference to the "fake news" dumbasses who, unfortunately, are not standing anywhere near an airlock. I also was taken by the fact that Ursa had supportive adults around her and she wasn't immediately on the run from nor a suspect by the people who mattered. I get weary when the main character has to keep digging out of a pit that continues to collapse.
But after that attention-getting beginning the story became more typical. There's nothing wrong with it and there's a good deal of action, especially for a short-ish sci fi book, but the twists didn't keep me turning pages as quickly and the betrayals felt too clearly broadcast.
Intriguing sci-fi novel that has a lot to say about current times/politics without actually saying it.
We're far into the future, and a ship of former Alpha Earth citizens are about to embark upon a new journey on Beta, nearly 400 years in the making. What led to this need isn't exactly clear, but can be read through the lines.
Main character Ursa is instantly thrown into the action being accused of a murder she most certainly didn't commit. What is the motivation for the framing? What is the motivation for some of the other things she is witnessing?
The sci-fi here is pretty light, making it accessible for mystery readers who don't want to be bogged down with too much science. But, perhaps a little too light for the avid sci-fi reader?
The story is intriguing, with many twists that will keep you guessing until the end. Perhaps not all of these twists are completely earned (the final twist isn't even entirely necessary, and one would have to be looking very, very closely to even attempt to suss it out beforehand), but I don't know that the book suffers for that.
We need half stars!! Having not read this author’s Science Fiction I gave it a try. Given that she is now a Canadian author I had a bit of reservation about reading the story but it turned out to be a 3.5 stars. I liked the story but being a hard core Si-Fi fan I may be too critical. The concept of Alpha Earth was not comfortable to me, Earth is our name for the home planet and the ships crew were human. Ok enough of my editing the authors concept as I have not written a novel. The story was quite believable and I had no problem accepting it.
Please read the book in spite of my personal feelings expressed in the start of the review the main character is a woman engineer in a long line of engineers who were needed to keep the space craft going. Her father also had been an engineer and captain of the space craft. Part of the craft were trained to settle the new planet. Engineers and other technical trained people were not as comfortable living on the planet meant to be be a replacement for Alpha earth as technology was left behind a few hundred years ago.
Kate Blair knows something about world building. In Tangled Planet it's a future world where the last remaining humans abandoned Earth and traveled through space for 400 years to reach the newly inhabitable "Beta Earth." Not used to planetary life, the colonists run into endless problems that test their resolve and willingness to stay earthbound.
The story opens with a dead body (yikes), left by a sharp-toothed creature (oh boy) or maybe a mutinous crew member (hot dog). All my favorite components of a solid murder mystery.
What really makes this story come alive, though, is the futuristic world she's created. There's no detail left uncovered. In addition to being a big murder mystery fan, I'm also a sci fi fan and this book has a really cool and complete vision of the future and the tech necessary for survival.
(SPOILERS INCLUDED) Ursa, a seventeen year old has gone on a journey and arrived at Beta Earth. As they got closer to Earth, people were arguing whether or not they want to embrace life on planet Beta or if they want to stay on the ship which is guaranteed as safe. As Ursa is voyaging across the planet, she stumbles upon a dead body, Orion's body. Ursa claims that she saw a "wolf-like" creature on planet Beta Earth that was hiding in the forest that could possibly be the killer. The problem with this claim, is that there was no creature that matched her description of this "wolf-like" creature that was released onto the planet, so people thought she was lying. Ursa was trying to find the killer, but then another murder happens. Ursa investigates as more bodies start piling up, she has to figure out who she can and can't trust on board.
I don't read a lot of YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but I was eager to read this book because the author, Kate Blair, is coming to the Elora Writers Festival 2018 (which I help organize). What a fun read! Not only is it set in a futuristic techno-science world (eg. the characters are living on a spaceship parked above an Earth-like planet) but it's also a bit of a mystery. A strong leading character and some twists in the plot - I got to the last few chapters and couldn't put it down.
Short easy to read scifi with a murder mystery and hints of betrayal. I do think we could have gotten more scifi, more mystery, more horror. Didn't read too much into all of the betrayals but I was able to guess some.