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The Ones We're Meant to Find

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Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 4, 2021

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About the author

Joan He

6 books7,131 followers
Joan was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that stories were her favorite kind of art. She studied psychology and Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the city
waterfront. Descendant of the Crane is her young adult debut.

For updates, please sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c5rvdL. For business related inquiries, please contact her literary agent, John Cusick of Folio Lit.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,842 reviews
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
929 reviews2,998 followers
October 8, 2021
I have a rather unpleasant announcement to make.


Moving on, this cover is still one of my favourite covers of 2021, and I'm delighted that people like it; it's just not my style, and the world building was haphazard and incomplete, and none of the characters appealed to me...
Profile Image for Robin.
310 reviews1,440 followers
November 24, 2021
↠ 5 stars

The Black Mirror reminiscent sci-fi of my dreams that somehow managed to break my heart into smithereens before I ever finished reading. After awaking marooned on an abandoned island with nothing to retrace her steps but the memory of a sister awaiting her return, Cee will do anything to find her way home. Three years later and the island has become her captor, luring her back no matter how many times she tries to escape its clutches. Back home, Kasey mourns a sister lost forever to the sea while facing a tumultuous future in the eco-city, earth’s last sanctuary. With its useful life almost spent, Kasey knows that using her gifts to ensure earth’s future means finding a difficult solution, one that the citizens just might not want to hear. Right as Cee begins to turn desperate someone unlikely washes up on shore, Kasey begins to make her case, and two sisters set adrift must find their own destiny, whether that be together or apart.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is quite frankly one of the most painful books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s a gut-wrenching unpredictable novel that only someone as talented as Joan He could ever have written. Right from the start, this ensnared me in its grasp through its masterful world-building and its vision of a future not so far off as one should like to think. To say I devoured this book would be the understatement of the century when in reality I was possessed by some otherworldly being that had me completing this in well under two hours. This is one of those books with a keen air of mystery present, which naturally led to me creating wild theories in my head as the book progressed. I feel compelled to mention that I was way off the mark with my theories, to the point of embarrassment, but the whole journey was really just exquisite. He has combined components of both thriller and science fiction within this novel, creating a story so ingenious and immersive it's impossible to put down. Classifying this as a page-turner seems appropriate given that, but this is also a thought-provoking read that took me on an emotional journey I am not sure I will recover from any time soon. Not only was this book exquisitely painful, it was also maddeningly frustrating at times. The very nature of a separation story such as this had me anxiously awaiting a reunion between both sisters, one that did not turn out at all how I was anticipating. Up until the last third of the book, I was on the edge of my seat completely at the mercy of Joan and her obscure plans. Well, this is certainly shaping up to be one of my favorite books of the year, maybe even of all time. A rare glimpse into the future of climate change, the persevering nature of sisterhood, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: gore, violence, death, death of a loved one, suicide, terminal illness, drowning, choking, mass death, grief, natural disasters
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
September 14, 2021
DNF @ 68%

I think this is going to be a book a lot of people really enjoy! But it just wasn’t for me. There were some interesting and unexpected twists and turns but I just didn’t like it. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan so maybe that’s why, but I found everything was kind of going over my head and I couldn’t picture anything which was really frustrating.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
April 22, 2021
i think JHs jump from fantasy to sci-fi is a real success. with her signature beautiful prose, JH has created an elevated ‘lifelike’ and ‘warcross,’ bringing new dimensions to the genre.

i will say i strongly preferred cees chapters over kays - im more interested in survival stories than cli-sci - and kays chapters are very technical, almost to the point where im still not quite sure i understand everything. but both sisters are worth reading about and i love how their two POVs connect. it definitely took me by surprise.

with the subtle allure and understated thrill of this story, i feel confident in saying this book is a definite dark horse for 2021.

thanks roaring brook press for the ARC!

4 stars
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,944 followers
June 1, 2021
why do the books with pretty covers always have to be the ones that disappoint me



this cover is very pretty in an objective way and..... the girls are very pretty in a gay way

// buddy read with lots of friends (tag later!)
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.4k followers
February 24, 2023
How do you write a post-apocalyptic novel when the world is on fire?

Everybody else had it easy. Philip K. Dick could write books about authoritarian governments and robots taking over and have them still be fun because his audience didn't have little rectangles with human names in their homes, CONSTANTLY LISTENING. George Orwell could write about...also authoritarian governments because Edward Snowden was not yet a twinkle in his parents' eye, and the NSA (or whatever its British equivalent) was not yet a twinkle in an evil gross bureuacrat's.

And also, none of them were writing about climate change.

I'll read about crazy governments making children kill each other for national entertainment, because that's obviously cool and interesting. I'll read about crazy governments making children join castes based on a singular personality trait, because that's relatively cool and interesting. I'll read PKD and Orwell, because even when they aren't cool and interesting I'm a sucker for someone saying something is a must read.

But I'm at a point where I don't want to read about global pandemics from flu-like illnesses, and I DEFINITELY don't want to read about global warming. Because both are real and both are everyone's day to day life and no one can forget about them for a second anyway.

There's something escapist about reading about POST-apocalyptic books. We're in the apocalypse now (I haven't seen that movie or else I'd make a cool reference), so reading about things being worse casts things into a kind of sharp relief sometimes.

But this was not escapist, because I was reading it when it was 100 degrees outside and wildfire smoke was making everything fuzzy, and now I'm reviewing it days after flooding shut my city down.

If I'm going to read about climate change, it turns out, I don't want to read a fictionalized look at how everything is terrible and it will never get better, only worse. I want to read long essays in esteemed publications, or I want to read books like Sally Rooney's latest, which fill me with even a little bit of hope.

This was well done, and everything. I just hated every second of reading it.

Bottom line: Everything is terrible! I don't read to be reminded of that.


no thoughts head empty just "pretty girls on cover"

update: probably no book could live up to that cover. but this one certainly did not.

review to come / 3 stars
Profile Image for Joan He.
Author 6 books7,131 followers
May 7, 2021
5/4/21 and that's book 2 out in the world friends! thank you so, so much to everyone who took the time to read and review. As always, an extra big thank you to everyone crossposting reviews on retail sites such as amazon and B&N. It's a huge help to us authors <3

Like last time, I thought I'd round up some FAQs and drop some insight here!
(Ok, I know that isn't the answer you wanted. In my very biased opinion, I'm for less is more. No second helpings of dessert. *hides*)
THE TIMELINE (spoilers)
(click and scroll down to the first reply)
(and other thoughts!)

On Kasey in particular, I wanted to note, as I did in the above tweet, that I wrote her from my own personal experience. However you interpret her character is entirely up to you; the book is yours now, not mine. But if you're wondering why certain labels do not appear on the page, this would be the reason. In the writing of the book, I drew strictly from how I see myself, at this point in time. Any lack of on-page rep stems from this conscientious choice.

And with that, I set this book loose! I hope it finds you <3

Content warnings:. The list may not be exhaustive, and will be updated as necessary.

3/4/21 ARCSs exist, and the preorder campaign for the book is LIVE! For more details, images of the swag, and link to submit receipts, please visit my site.

*Please note that the arc is not final. While the story doesn't differ, during edits some lines were changed to be more inclusive. This will all be reflected in the finished copy! Thank you for understanding <3

9/17/20 and the cover is live!!! meet the sisters, Cee and Kasey! Cee's in the back, Kasey's got the bangs. Art credits and pre-order info can be found in my announcement thread.

DOTC's cover opened so many doors that it was really important to me this delivered on the same level. I've been biting my nails for a while now and I'm relieved to see the excitement for what we came up with. It really captures the heart of the sisters' story so well. Thank you for celebrating the reveal with me, and stay tuned for more info in the coming days!

8/14/20 We have a release date! Mark your calendars for May 4th, 2021. Can't wait to share more details (full summary, cover, etc.) soon.
I'm beyond thrilled to say that I have more books coming your way! if you've read DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE and thought that was twisty, then you're not ready ;)
Profile Image for Hafsah Faizal.
Author 9 books7,602 followers
May 11, 2021
With adoring prose and a clever plot, Joan He's latest novel is a beautiful story about the bond between sisters and the love for a humanity that might not deserve it. Be prepared for floating cities, deserted islands, and a peek at an awful future that doesn't seem all too implausible. I absolutely loved this story.
Profile Image for Steph.
543 reviews269 followers
September 23, 2021
Alone is an island. It's an uncrossable sea, being too far from another soul, whereas lonely is being too close, in the same house yet separated by walls because we choose to be...
this book is very ???!!!

dreamy, nebulous, heavy on the scifi, often confusing, and ultimately terribly sad; this was a challenging read for me.

i think it's best to go into this book prepared for a scifi story, and not knowing much else. but my disorganized review is going to delve deeper, just for the sake of getting out some thoughts. beware, major spoilers are tagged!!

we alternate between two perspectives. there's cee, stuck on a mysterious desert island, drawn to the sea, and desperate to find her sister. and there's her sister kasey, living in a dystopian future where part of the population is living safely in eco-cities hovering above the ocean, while the rest of the population remains on earth's surface, vulnerable to climate disasters.

this book is twisty and everything is cloaked in mystery. there are many layered reveals, and it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story, because you have to accept that you're not going to fully understand everything that's going on; you gotta roll with what you do know and keep reading.

on a regular day i have a large amount of climate change anxiety, and this book certainly amped that up. but for the typical reader, i don't think that's a bad thing. not to turn this review into a soapbox, but i think we should be prepared for potential climate disasters in our future, and do whatever we can as individuals to stave them off. obviously legislation is required if humans are going to save our planet, but there are meaningful things that we can all do daily, like avoiding animal products and single use plastic.

/END CLIMATE CHANGE RANT! but if you're sensitive to climate change anxiety too, be aware that the book deals with these themes!!

anyway. kasey has trouble relating to the emotions of people around her, which is understandable, but it made it harder for me to relate to her. she's ridiculously smart and brave, but i didn't feel connected to her character. whereas i felt so much for sweet, charismatic, gutsy celia.

Celia had loved the sea. Loved the whitecaps that foamed like milk, the waltz of sunlight atop the peaks. Kasey did not. The sea was a trillion strands of hair, infinitely tangled on the surface and infinitely dense beneath. It distorted time: Minutes passed like hours and hours passed like minutes out there. It distorted space, made the horizon seem within reach.

i love the ocean vibes, and the extreme contrast between the two sisters. i love the tightness of their bond, despite all their differences.

i read this with the wonderful sofia, and we were in agreement that the message of the book is ultimately unclear.

which leads me to the open ending.

the theme of family connections is strong, but i was surprised to be touched by the gentle taste of love story as well.

They're not sad tears. Not happy tears. Just... tears. Warm as the ache between my legs. Real as the ribs beneath my skin. And for a breath, I forget. Everything. I'm just a body nestled against another's. We're nothing as timeless as stars in orbit. More like two grains of sand before the tide rushes in. Here, then not. Human.

despite being confused throughout this book, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, the contrast between settings (though i did prefer cee's salty ocean scenes to the jam-packed eco-cities), and the intense themes of family bonds and dystopian environmentalism. the vivid atmosphere and engaging writing style are lovely. i just wish things had clicked into place a little better! with some additional clarity, this could have been a wonderfully satisfying read, instead of making me feel ???!!!

Thank you to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Hilly.
701 reviews1,262 followers
August 3, 2021
4.5 stars

That ending HURT ME

The problem with oceans? They always seem smaller from the shore.

I’m amazed by the sheer complexity this whole book is built on. I’m not talking about the world building only, but also the characters. Joan He was able to write a standalone that had on me the same impact a trilogy I love usually has. It was twisty and heart-wrenching, shocking but so wholesome. It would have been a five star if it wasn’t for the fact that things like the world, the technology and some plot points remained confusing for a little too long to be an enjoyable kind of confusing, you know? But everything else I just loved.

This book is like: you thought that plot twist 10 pages ago was the last and the biggest one? Hold my beer. I lost count of how many times the characters managed to surprise me with their actions, their well-rounded representation, their motivations and emotions. I love how the author makes them feel super realistic and for sure this won’t be the last book I read by her. I’m a fan of Cee and the way she’s so likable, but I’m also incredibly in love with Kasey and Actinium’s journeys. Their growth and that ending.....wow. I would have never seen it coming.
All of that was enhanced by the setting. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but I do really like when stories take place in cool worlds that function on technology that makes sense. This book had it all.

What drove me in at first, apart from the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen in my entire life, was the part of the synopsis about Cee being stranded on an island. I love survival stories and this one delivered in a lot of ways. Cee’s chapters were definitely my favorite. I wasn’t expecting to fall for the romance as well though (honestly I didn’t even think there was going to be one). Cee’s melted my heart, Kasey’s had me on the edge of my seat. But in the end those two broke my heart and I’m still trying to put the pieces together. I can’t believe what this book did to me 😭

Why is it that I can trust you one moment, and be hurt by you the next?

This book was fascinating and engrossing, bittersweet and tragic. I can’t wait for it to hurt me again when I pick it up next time.

I received an advanced reader copy through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.


I’ve only checked out the first three sentences and I already know this one will be a winner 🌈
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,315 followers
December 31, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice nominee in Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction!

When I first saw this cover I thought it was going to be a fantasy. Then after reading then synopsis I thought it was going to be a thriller. It’s really not either of those things though, so admittedly it took me a while to find my footing in The Ones We’re Meant to Find.

There was so much going on in this book, even with somewhat of a slow start. Celia and Kasey are sisters, separated by an unknown amount of space and time. The opening chapters feature Cee alone on a deserted island and Kay living as a kind of recluse in a densely populated eco-city. Kasey has been grieving the loss of her sister for three months, who was last seen embarking out into the dangerous waters surrounding their city. Cee, on the other hand, has been trying to escape ever since she first woke up on the island, dreaming of the only person in the world who’s important to her now: her sister.

We don’t learn a lot about the world the girls live in in Cee’s chapters, but while Kay is attempting to retrace Celia’s last moments before her disappearance we’re introduced to more and more of its harsh realities. After refusing to take action to protect the environment, humans have found that it’s turned on them. While some regions have adjusted, massively reducing their carbon footprints, spending a third of their lives in stasis pods among other things, many have flatly refused and continue to cause damage. And I have to say, after over a year of collective foot-dragging and tantrum-throwing when it comes to basic things like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated during a worldwide pandemic by some, this is probably the least surprising thing about the world depicted here by Ms. He.

The society Kay is a part of is one of the more interesting aspects of the story. There’s some typical Black Mirror stuff—holographs, memory storing and erasing, a social standing score, etc.—but I think the more unique bits are when the technology isn’t the focus and instead the morality around it is. Where does autonomy overlap with selfishness? Is it more important to protect individual interests or collective ones? Can causing intentional harm be excusable if it serves a greater societal good? The Ones We’re Meant to Find is about climate change, technology, humanity, ecoterrorism, capitalism, family and so much more.

But I think, at its core, this book asks what we owe one another. Some of that is broader, what do we owe other people living on this earth, but it also extends to a more personal level. The bond between these two sisters is the driving force of the novel, propelling them to re-examine their own very different world views in an attempt to understand one another. Cee is different from the person she used to be. Kay has always felt like a less complete version of her sister. In order to fully *get* this book, you have to get Cee and Kay.

Which is probably why you’re going to see a smattering of low ratings mixed in with the high ones. This book is not going to be able to sink its claws into everybody, and that’s fine. It’s probably too slow at the beginning, maybe also a little confusing at first, but once it clicks, it clicks. And I think as time has passed (I finished it about a week ago), I’ve come to appreciate what Joan He did here even more. The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a daunting, transfixing journey into a world that’s both too close to and too divergent from our own to ever feel completely comfortable in. I’d recommend readers to take their time getting into it, try and revel in that discomfort and to let yourself be swept away.

And as a side note:
I really enjoyed Descendant of the Crane, and I’m excited to read more from Joan! And after all that nonsense her last publisher put her through, I’m hopeful that she’s found a team that fully supports AND compensates her for her work.

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
August 4, 2021

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

DNF @ p.56

Oh man. I was REALLY disappointed by this book-- especially since I'd been looking forward to it ever since it came out. I liked the author's debut novel, DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE, and really looked forward to seeing what she would do next. Especially since THE ONES WE'RE MEANT TO FIND was *checks notes* being compared to Studio Ghibli movies in the blurb and had one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen recently.

Sadly... I did not like it at all.

This is just SO confusing. I checked some of the one star and two star reviews to see if it would get better and it didn't seem to. This appears to be the kind of book where if you're not into it from the beginning, you're not going to be into it at the end. One of the POVs is about this girl marooned on a beach (first person). The other is this girl in a city environment who is looking for her missing sister (third person). I guess I was hoping, based on the cover, that the sisterhood dynamic would be more prevalent and less... I don't know, absent.

I also think I have a pretty good idea what the twist is. Definitely curious if I'm right, though.

Side note: not only is the cover gorgeous, the amount of design and thought that went into the layout is A+. I actually took a photo of the endpapers on my Instagram because they were so beautiful. If you're into some Nova Ren Suma levels of M. Night Shyamalan-like plot twists, this will probably appeal to you. But if you're looking for something that's more straightforward, give this a miss.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

1 star
May 30, 2022

The cover for this book is goals...its contents not so much. I found this novel to be an odd melange of confusing and simple. The characters came across as flat (little more than names on a page), the world-building, although at first promising, ultimately struck me as patchy, and the storyline and twists were just not up my street. Still, I know that quite a lot of people are looking forward to this novel so I encourage prospective readers to check out some more positive reviews, as this may as well be one of those 'it's not it's me' cases.

The novel follows two sisters, the older one, Cee, has been stranded on an island for the past three years, while the younger one, Kasey, lives in one of the few existing eco-cities and is trying to make sense of Cee's disappearance. Climate and environmental disasters have made eco-cities refuges for humanity. Of course, not everyone is allowed entrance in eco-cities, and in spite of their utopian promises, eco-cities' such as Kasey's are incredibly classists (people are 'ranked, the cities themselves have stratified structure and those who live in the lower stratums lead less privileged lifestyles than those on 'top'). Although much of Kasey and Cee's world remains largely unexplored we do get some details about life in their eco-city. For example, we learn that 'holoing' is a green alternative which allows the citizens of the eco-city to conduct 'nonessential activities' in the holographic mode. There is also Intraface which allows its users to capture their memories as well as apps which can 'adjust' a person's serotonin levels. Kasey, who is a very logical person and who makes sense of the world around her through a scientific lens, finds herself, somewhat uncharacteristically one could say, trying to find what happened to her sister, even if she's convinced that Cee is dead.
Meanwhile, Cee has been trying to leave the island she woke up on. She desperately wants to be reunited with Kasey, and is prepared to risk her life in her attempt to build a raft/boat that will allow her to set forth into the ocean. Cee recollects very little about her former life and seems to have entirely forgotten about the existence of the eco-city or the rest of the world. All she knows is that she has to find her sister.

Here are the problems that I had with this novel (minor-spoilers below):

→the writing itself. Cee's sections are narrated in the 1st person, Kasey's in the 3rd. Something switching between perspectives can enhance a story (as with Red at the Bone, Everything Here is Beautiful, The Travelers, or anything by N. K. Jemisin), but, more often than not, is unnecessary. Kasey remains remote, which is perhaps intentional, after all, the author goes above and beyond in order to emphasise how 'cold' and 'detached' and 'Not Like Other People' she is (it seemed weird that the possibility of her being neurodivergent was never raised or discussed considering how technologically advanced these eco-cities are—for example, if someone feels upset they can locate the source of that feeling, be it a memory or whatnot). Yet, on the other hand, being in Cee's head didn't do all that much for her character either. She doesn't know a lot, her inner monologue consists mostly of what she observes (the island, the ocean, the rocks, the sand, her shack, her robot helper). When the boy arrives her mind is mostly occupied with thoughts of him. Cee's sections also included some really purply phrases (her thoughts 'jellify', she feels the 'muchness' and 'littleness'). Although the writing was for the most part okay, there were a few too many clichéd phrases ("Sometimes [she] felt like a stranger in her own skin", "[she] did not belong–here or anywhere") and even the dialogues were full of platitudes and done to death lines such as "What could we achieve, if we worked together?"
→the world-building left too much unexplored. There was so much that did not make sense or did not convince me and yet, I was supposed to just buy into it? The few half-delivered explanations we get did little in terms of answering my questions or making sense.
→the characters....Cee and Kasey are the classic YA sisters. One is attractive, charming, everyone loves her. The other is quiet, logical, not driven by her feelings but by FACTS, and she just does not 'fit in'. I felt nothing for them, which sounds harsh, but it is the truth. They were painfully one-dimensional, and, the longer I read, the less I believed in them. Not only is this kind of dynamic old but I just did not feel that Kasey and Cee's relationship was particularly nuanced. They also seemed to have no thoughts about their childhood, their parents (the dad is meant to be this powerful big guy but because he is 99% of the time off-page...well, he was pretty superfluous).
→insta-love, of the worst kind. The whole love storyline did not work for me. There are some dodgy scenes that would have definitely not been included if we were to reverse the characters' genders (and I was not a fan of those scenes).
→plot...it has its twists, I will give it that. But I just could not bring myself to believe in Kasey's arc (that they would just let her do what she wanted).
→the themes had potential but He sacrifices potentially interesting conversations/scenes that touch upon ethics & morality in favour of drama.

Sadly, the novel had very little to offer me. By the end of the novel (around the 80% mark) I was so bored and irritated by what I was reading that I ended up skim-reading the rest. There were too many lacunae (in both the world-building and storyline) and I never felt engaged by the characters or the author's style. I was hoping for something more compelling, and yes, the comparison to Ghibli definitely feels misleading.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

find me on: ❀ blogthestorygraphletterboxd tumblrko-fi
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,465 reviews9,621 followers
May 30, 2021
May Owlcrate! Click on the spoiler under the picture to see the goods

I mean, I don’t know what to say ... I just knew I would love this book, but I should have known with the beautiful cover that I would not. I liked a few things, bots, realizations...sigh. The book just wasn’t for me but I’m glad for those that loved it. And I was going to paint the edges a pastel purple. Damn it all!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
July 15, 2021
"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
it's always ourselves we find in the sea."

-E.E. Cummings, Maggie and Milly and Molly and May

Beautifully written and exquisitely lush, The Ones We're Meant to Find is more than just a stunning cover. A slow burning dive into sisterly bonds, climate change, and the effect that our carbon footprint has on the earth, this story was equal parts thought provoking and emotionally challenging. The first half of the book is quite slow in pacing, but if you stick with it, the second half more than makes up for the time spent in the first. Once I was able to get my bearings regarding the world building and alternating POVs, I became more invested in the story, and once you hit between 50-60%, the plot twists just multiply, one after the other. I read the last 40% in a single sitting because I couldn't put it down! The ending will be a dealbreaker for some, but I think it lets the reader sit with their thoughts and process without the author inserting anything else into the narrative. Definitely did NOT see the big twist coming, and I look forward to more from Joan He!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
686 reviews247 followers
March 10, 2021
The Ones We’re Meant to Find took me completely by surprise; what began as a story of two sisters separated by the sea quickly became something so much more. Joan He seamlessly combines classic elements of science fiction, fantasy and thriller to create what is an undeniably striking and unique tale, gripping from start to finish.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

It’s been three years since Cee washed up on the shore of a deserted island, with nothing more than an android to keep her company and a wooden shack to reside in. Her only memory is that she has a sister, the person she needs to find.
Kasey lives in a skydome—the last unpolluted place on earth, meant to shelter those dedicated to protecting the planet. It’s been years since the quiet disappearance of her sister, though Kasey is convinced that she isn’t really dead like everyone says.


Joan He made several interesting stylistic choices that did wonders for this story. Cee’s perspective is told in first person, while Kasey’s is told in second—an insignificant detail at first, though it becomes brilliant in light of the revelations that come. The writing is a large part of what made this such a well crafted novel; it was so easy to fall into He’s strange world (which is no small feat considering its bizarre constructs).

Kasey’s perspective is probably my only complaint about The One’s We’re Meant to Find. It was hard to sympathize with her in the first half, mainly due to her closed off and almost apathetic personality. I found Cee’s fight to escape the island far more enticing, especially when paired with her eccentric and odd charisma. The romance was near perfect, I was so charmed by the love interest’s interactions with Cee.

The One’s We’re Meant to Find was nothing like I expected (which was, to say, a fairly typical young adult fantasy). Joan He’s wordbuilding is immaculate, and her storyline is evidently planned with careful attention to detail. By the halfway mark, it was plot twist after plot twist after plot twist. My head was spinning with the shock. This book will leave you entertained, that’s for sure! Definitely a release to keep on your radar!

Thank you to Netgalley and Text Publishing for the arc!
Profile Image for Andrae.
353 reviews40 followers
August 5, 2022
WELCOME to the longest review I have ever written.

Where do I even start?

Everything about this was a disaster.

The characters
The plot
The world building

It just kept getting worse and worse and it would not stop.

All I wanted was for this book to give me some redeemable quality and there was none.

it breaks my heart.

I’ll start off with the good (aka that extra .5 star)

1. The main characters- they had some depth, some complexity. I understood some of their reasoning behind the things they did.

2. The survival plot- I surprisingly really enjoyed this aspect, it was probably the only part of the book I actually liked. I never thought that I would enjoy that part of a book but I definitely want to pick up more with this in it.

3. Short chapters- i think it’s self explanatory :)

Alright moving on now... lol.


1. THE WORLD BUILDING- What a dumpster fire the world building in this book was. Right off the bat, I was completely and utterly confused. There were so many science terms, we were thrown into this world with no introduction, nothing was explained, and I mean nothing. The only thing that was developed was the island and the ship thing that Kay is living on. Which would be fine if that was the only location in the story. But it wasn’t. There was description of the outside world. And when I say description I mean all of one sentence. And the main conflict had to do with these colonies that are living on the main land? I think. That’s how little it was developed. All that was given is that there are people living on land and it’s bad for them. That is it. There was ABSOLUTELY no other description. How am I supposed to feel for these people if I don’t understand their circumstance? The stakes were supposed to be high but I had none of the feelings because we didn’t know what the stakes were. They visit these places once, I think they were teleported from the sky, we get no descriptions of what they look like, the state of them, living conditions. nothing. It was an absolute disaster. Some of the worst that I have ever laid my eyes on. Even the parts that were partially developed, and I mean partially because nothing was ever really explained but the characters spent a lot of time in these areas, took about 60 percent of the book for me to get used to.

2. THE TERMINOLOGY- this is kind of like a subcategory of the previous one but it was obnoxious and it makes me so beyond angry so it has to get its own spot. First of all there was too much science going on. I read to enjoy myself not to feel like I am reading a text book. Second, can someone PLEASE TELL ME WHY she felt the need to create new terms for scientific concepts that ALREADY EXIST. I could not handle it. I was going to lose my mind. Just say they are dying from radiation and move on.

3. SIDE CHARACTERS- another absolute disaster. None of them had any dimension. This one girl... Meridian, is supposed to be one of the main character’s best friend. But their relationship had no development, she was kind of irrelevant until the very end where they got into a fight about I don’t even know what and she went all “I’ve always been there for you and been by your side” but we got none of that in the actual story sooo I’m not sure what feelings that was supposed to incite in us. Why did everyone of Celia’s ex boyfriends need to be named? don’t ask me.

4. THIRD PERSON POV- I never thought I would read a book where I preferred the first person over the third person perspective. But this book was full of surprises. It was dreadful. I could not handle it, maybe it was the addition of all of that obnoxious science talk but I didn’t want anything to do with it. It was all one big migraine.

5. THE PLOT- I don’t even want to get into it, but basically we are taken on this journey with these two sisters, for the story to not even get an ending, and it pissed me the fuck off. And the dual timeline at the end turned into an absolute mess and none of it made any fucking sense.

6. KAY AND ACT’s RELATIONSHIP- the lovers (not really but.. there’s something going on) to enemies thing? Absolutely not. It’s a no for me. The reason behind it? You’re asking the wrong person.

There’s so much more but I’m gonna go into my absolute least favorite part... and the part that sealed the deal when it came to this one star rating... THE 12 PAGE INFO DUMP

I done even know how to get into this. (spoilers ahead)

So if you can recall from a little while back I mentioned that we didn’t get an ending to the story. Basically that is because we are following the two sisters, two povs, two different timelines, and they are finally about to accomplish the whole purpose of the story. And then we get one last chapter going back to the past timeline. We get this horrible scene. That should have been cut from the book. I might rip the chapter out myself because it takes the book to a whole new level of trash (and it really just doesn’t make any sense). And then... we go six years into the future from this final chapter.










oh my god it makes me want to scream.

and did I mention...


So everything that was left open ended in the actual plot of the story she took the time to give us a history lesson instead of you know... writing something good.

My forearms are cramping and I am a mess. Thank you for coming to my rant.


that twelve page info dump at the end did it for me

1.5 Stars

Profile Image for Samuel.
205 reviews53 followers
April 18, 2023
 I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to Text Publishing for the advanced copy of this book.

Bookplaylist here!

“It hurts like a wound, even though I’m used to being alone. Except I’m not alone. Alone is an island. It’s an uncrossable sea, being too far from another soul, whereas lonely is being to close, in the same house yet separated by walls because we choose to be.”




Friends reviews you should check: Robin’s, - Ness’s, - Lauren’s.

This book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and I’m stunned. Everything in The Ones We’re Meant to Find was perfectly crafted. The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a page-turning dazzling sci-fi that will stay in your mind forever.

Joan He created a story that is just… astonishing. A book that has 180° turns and very big twists that will take you by complete surprise. An amazing book that proves He’s brilliant storytelling.

“The problem with oceans? They always seem smaller from the shore. ”

In The Ones We’re Meant to Find we find Cee, a girl who has been trapped in a desert island for three years. She doesn’t know how she got there and neither how to get out. Actually, she doesn’t remember a single thing about her life. The only thing she remembers is that, somewhere, she has a sister named Kay, and that she needs to find her.

On the other hand, we find Kacey, a STEM prodigy who lives in one of the eight floating cities around the world (Called eco-cities). Her sister, Celia, has been disappeared for more than three months¬ and Kacey will start finding a lot of secrets about her sister, while she finds something that will, maybe, save her world from devastation.

“I am a vast ocean, the only sea I don’t have to cross, and for the first time in a long time, I remember what it feels like to drown in myself. ”

Ok, so this is Joan He: Joan He . Do you see her smile? I think she’s like a Dementor. She feeds from her reader’s happiness and when you think the poor characters cannot suffer a little more, she’s like: “Are you challenging me?” and then… she smiles.

But, now seriously, the characters in The Ones We’re Meant to Find are just beautiful. The sisters, Cee and Kacey are so well-developed that you get to know them in a very intimate and realistic way. Hero and Actinium are PERFECT. Everything about them made me, literally, slobber for their cuteness and perfection.

My favorite character, you ask? Definitely Hero. He’s the cutest thing ever and ANYONE deserves him. I just hope (BECAUSE THIS IS A F*KING OPEN ENDING AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AAHHH) he’s happy.

“Some names are found. Others are earned. This one is both.” The boy, Hero, frowns. ”

Joan He’s writing style is unique. Her prose is amazing, making the book just beautiful. I can’t wait for my copy to arrive so I can reread this book and really appreciate it and to mark the million quotes I liked.

“Throughout the course of civilization, humans had looked to the heavens for answers. In stars, they found maps. In suns, they found gods. In the sky beyond the sky, they thought they’d find a second home.”

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is and unmatchable book. Combines the classic essence of sci-fi with a fresh twist of Joan’s unique style. A book that will keep you addicted from page one, and will leave you, for sure, with your mouth open. Joan He develops a story with unexpected twists and an apparently simple story that quickly becomes a lot more.

And talking about the plot twist. From the middle of the book and until the end my mind was plotting theories like a decomposed machine. Through the book I had only four moods:


Everything is so well-crafted and thought out that it was… perfect.

This is a very melancholic book. Is the vibe the whole plot gives me and when you go through it the story becomes more powerful and deep. I loved *everything* about The Ones We’re Meant to Find and I hope it gains the recognition it deserves.


“Celia had loved the sea. Loved the whitecaps that foamed like milk, the waltz of sunlight atop the peaks. Kasey did not. The sea was a trillion strands of hair, infinitely tangled on the surface and infinitely dense beneath. It distorted time: Minutes passed like hours and hours passed like minutes out there. It distorted space, made the horizon seem within reach.

And it was the perfect place for hiding secrets.”

ABSOLUTELY. If you liked We Were Liars o the Netflix series Black Mirror this should be in your preorder list. I really really hope the advanced reviews help this book get the appreciation and respect it deserves. If you want to get more into sci-fi, as a person who’s not really into sci-fi, I reaaally recommend The Ones We’re Meant to Find. If you’re looking for a book you can literally read in one day (As I did), read this.

“Logic ended where love began.”

When I got the ARC of this book, I decided to read Descendant of the Crane, Joan He’s debut novel before getting into The Ones We’re Meant to Find, and the tremendous evolution in He’s storytelling, crafting and development is impeccable. If I’m allowed to say this, I’m really proud of her growth as an author, because the difference from DOTC to TOWMTF is just astonishing. I cannot wait to keep reading her, because with The Ones We’re Meant to Find, Joan He became one of my favorite authors for sure.

With a dazzling prose, a breath-taking story and a jaw-dropping twists, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a fresh and page-turning novel that makes a difference from other 2021 books, and will definitely fascinate readers from now on.

MontFort says bye!

“We get to choose the places we go and the people we find.” “Do we?” Hero wonders. “I don’t think either of us came here by choice.” Fair enough. “And I think we have even less choice over the ones we’re meant to find. ”

Profile Image for Alexis.
134 reviews31 followers
August 22, 2021
Two sisters search for one another. One trapped in an abandoned island, the other in a city built to withstand the world falling apart.

I don’t usually read sci-fi, so it was a lot different from what I usually read, but I really enjoyed it.

I was confused a lot, but in a good way. There were lots of twists and turns. Anytime I thought I had things figured out, I was wrong. I was nowhere near close to guessing what was really happening. The writing was very well done. It held my attention and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was a fantastic story, especially if you like a mixture of sci-fi and mystery. The characters were writing fantastically. Joan He was able to showcase the complexity of the relationships and human nature in general.

Even if you don’t typically enjoy sci-fi, I would give this book a chance! This was a fantastic piece of work, and I will definitely be reading more by this author.

Thank you to NetGalley, Books Forward, and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews263 followers
June 16, 2021
the fact that i hated this is one of the top 10 most awkward moments of my life

joan he i am brokenhearted too

very confused, sad, & salty review to come < / 3

( buddy read w/ may, caitlin, lily, & cath!! )


i literally started this book over from the beginning since i was not comprehending a single second of it ❤️ it's what joan he deserves because i was NOT enjoying it before lmao


the author of one of my all time favorite novels is writing a dark sci-fi novel with gorgeous asian girls on the cover?
someone hold me rnrn

i'm chinese, so i have a legal right to read this, right??? right???

(also this totally gives me wilder girls vibes, and i'm hoping it will be just as viscerally terrifying) (update: still hope this book will be as good as / better than wilder girls, but hopefully without the author bullying ppl LMAO)
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
595 reviews817 followers
Want to read
September 18, 2020
i want the art from this cover to be printed as a sticker so i can slap it obnoxiously everywhere

(Joan said it was a 9/10 on the sob scale. Descendant of the Crane was a 5/10 according to her. I was already sobbing during DOTC. I am not prepared.)
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,696 followers
April 10, 2021
Read my full review on my book blog, The Quiet Pond.

My thoughts on The Ones We're Meant to Find are unfortunately complex and not so straightforward. Ultimately, I liked this book well enough, but the story until 57% was unfortunately very slow and sluggish. 57% onwards though? Absolutely amazing.

I don't feel torn, in a sense I don't know how to feel about the book, but torn in a sense that my opinions of this book are, for the most part, split down the middle.

- Follows two Asian teens and sisters, told in alternating narratives. There's Cee, who wakes up on an island with no memory of before, except that she has a sister and that she has to find her. Then, there's Kasey, a STEM prodigy who searches for her sister and may have the key to saving humanity from its own destruction.
- Most of the first half centers on and builds on a central mystery or 'reveal', which is revealed at 57% of the book.
- The first 57% of the book is just... really slow, unfortunately boring, and has a lot of padding in the storytelling. The slow pace made me want to give up a few times - but I wanted to know what the story was leading to, so I kept reading.
- Because I was invested in what was going to happen in the story, I really enjoyed the story following the 'reveal'; it takes off and I liked how the story and characters finally come together in a meaningful way.
- This story explores climate change, the consequences of unchecked capitalism, existentialism, and hope versus misanthropy, and I enjoyed the themes of the book.
- Ultimately, I didn't like the first half but loved the second half... so my opinion is really split down the middle about this book, and I unfortunately don't think the good second half justify the too-slow pace of the first half.

Content warning: blood mentions, death of a loved one, physical violence, environmental apocalyptic themes
Profile Image for katie ❀.
120 reviews479 followers
May 5, 2021
joan he has done it again. after reading the masterpiece that was descendant of the crane, i jumped at the chance to read her next book, and i'm so excited to say that the ones we're meant to find did not disappoint in the slightest!

with her sophomore novel, joan he has cemented herself as one of my favorite authors. her brilliant sense of character and exquisite writing certainly exceeded my expectations.

cee and kasey are sisters, one longing for another and one longing to forget. cee is lonely, stranded on an island, left with nothing but memories of her sister. kasey is witty and smart, but wants to forget her lost sister, celia. they were once whole together, roughly torn apart by waves of salt and differences in belief.

joan he's writing is absolutely nothing like i've seen before. she writes vivid language rendered in gorgeous prose, and the messages of this book are delivered without holding back. they left a huge imprint, crashing down upon me, a never-ending deluge of words and emotion.

but above all, this book is about what it means to be human, how we're never alone, no matter how lonely we feel. and finally, it is about the ones we're meant to care for, desire, and love; the ones we're meant to find.
Profile Image for alaska.
235 reviews437 followers
August 12, 2022
listen, i did not know what to expect from this book, but it sure wasn't this. i have the urge to say "give me a moment to process what i read" but i cAN'T?
Profile Image for nessma.
180 reviews94 followers
September 26, 2021

[digital arc provided by the publisher]

the ones we’re meant to find is a thrilling, heartrending sci-fi novel following two sisters—celia, who’s been surviving on an abandoned island with one mission: to find her sister, kasey, who’s trying to decide if she’ll use science to help save humanity, that has continued to fail her and the people who mattered most.

”some secrets are best left at sea.”

wow. if it’s not apparent by the rating, i cannot stress this enough, i loved this book. it blew me away. it had me floored. i am speechless by what joan he has achieved here and i know that this review will not never serve the book any justice but i will try my best to articulate my overwhelming feelings.

this is a story about love, hope, humanity, and what we’re willing to do—or rather, sacrifice—to survive. within that, the author explored what i believe is the heart of the story: sisterhood. it is a compelling, heart-searching tale of family ties and a thought-provoking prodding of humankind trying and failing and trying again to find freedom in life.

i was immediately transported into the world with the characters. even though the sci-fi aspect hindered my reading because i was trying to absorb it all in, it was just me marveling at the sheer imagining of the setting and the author’s ability to bring life to words on a page through excellent world-building that resonated with our real world and hit close to home. it felt fully realized just enough to be able to tell the story the author was trying to tell—and it was done beautifully.

similarly, the atmosphere the book created was just stunning. it really could be a studio ghibli film. i was more in love with cee’s chapters—the descriptions and the writing there excelled, in my opinion. maybe i’m biased because i’m a sea/ocean/beach fanatic but every mention of the sea and the sand and the sun and the sky tugged at my heart.

the writing took some getting used to; i get that it was an authorial choice to write in fragments to fit the mood of the book and i felt it chunky and kind of awkward at first but i quickly got accustomed to it and better yet enjoyed it so much. joan he has got some heart-wrenching tricks under her sleeve to make you feel emotional—i was a satisfied victim of her ways and it made the book all the more compelling.

the characters stole my heart from the very first page and i found myself getting increasingly engrossed in their lives and minds and hearts as the twists kept coming. my heart rarely takes leaps and races so fast when i’m reading a book and towmtf did. celia was very easy to love, constantly challenged and constantly having her life shattered only to renew her faith in survival and finding her sister across the sea, it was so refreshing to read a hope that strong. kasey was such a strong character and very interesting to read from, i found myself always questioning her actions but also understanding her, trying to find answers and choose the “right” thing. hero and actinium are also such, such prominent characters who i care dearly for and truly made this book the journey it is. every single character was crafted with thought and care and i absolutely loved them all.

the only hiccup i initially had was the pacing in the first half of the book, but by the ending and after all the plot twists and revelations, i found myself understand the route of storytelling joan he took in this book. it simply just made sense to have the book start slow and steady; in that way it made me resonate with the characters and become engrossed in the world.

and really, with all the mind-blowing plot twists we get in the second half are just enough to keep me thinking about this book for an eternity to come. i will never be over what joan he has done to me. and i am so excited to have it done to me again with the next thing she comes up with!!

tw: terminal illness, suicide, violence (including choking), death, death of parents (off-page), death of a loved one, drowning, vomiting, large-scale natural disasters and mass casualties, gore.
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
366 reviews3,049 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 7, 2021
I hit page 100 today but have decided to let this one go. This book has an iconic cover but it kept giving me reasons not to read it. Nothing had my attention. One sisters perspective is far better than the other but the combination of the two still had my enjoyment tank on empty.
Full review to come on my YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews803 followers
April 1, 2022
2-3 stars; i.... feel let down. :(

the ones we’re meant to find was, without a doubt, one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. this was for several reasons:
✔ that absolutely stunning cover (hats off to artist aykut aydoğdu!)
✔ the utterly intriguing premise—which features a post-climate-change dystopia
✔ own-voices storytelling
✔ he fact that it’s joan he’s sophomore novel (i LOVED her debut, Descendant of the Crane)

unfortunately, this novel ended up being a total disappointment for me.

the foremost reason is that i had trouble connecting to the characters, especially the sisters at the helm of this story. i’ve been going back on forth on why this might be the case, and i think it comes down to 1) the inexplicable chemistry (or lack thereof) that forms between readers and characters, and 2) the fact that the book doesn’t really include fleshed-out side characters who would provide engaging, conflicting, complicating, interesting foil and fodder for the sisters to become more intimate and relatable to me.

i found it very strange that the cast of characters was so limited. we never get to know any of kasey and celia’s friends, for instance—and meridian, kasey’s friend in the eco-city, hardly counts: she was a friend in name only. i felt that this did a massive disservice to the book’s innovative world-building; without a fully fleshed-out cast of characters to inhabit it, this story lacked heft, emotional and otherwise.

it was frustrating to me that the only major side characters we get to know are actinium and hero, who both turn out to be (white or white-coded) love interests for the sisters. i did not find either romance compelling, and was disappointed at how predictable these romance arcs were; to me, the lack of other (interesting, relevant) characters in the story only reinforced the heteronormative idea that when guys and girls are thrown together on a page, they’ll end up romantically involved. personally i would’ve read the story as less trite (and more interesting) if actinium and/or hero ended up being friends, supporters, enemies of kasey and cee.

moreover, i found the plot confusing at several points because the characters’ motivations were just so darn opaque to me. i couldn’t feel the thorny, intense emotions that should accompany celia and kasey’s respective ethical, existential dilemmas—because i didn’t even understand the dilemma in the first place. apart from a desire to fiercely love and protect the other sister, i didn’t understand what decisions they were trying to choose between. in this sense, i think the novel was a little too coy in its descriptions, so as to be unclear about what was going on.


BOTTOM LINE: i feel let down. :( nevertheless, this remains one of the most gorgeous covers of any 2021 release i have seen. AND i love joan he's brain—the premise of this story, the backbone of its climate justice-infused world-building, was so interesting. whatever she puts out, i shall read!

many thanks to netgalley & text publishing for this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for dezzy.
162 reviews
May 26, 2021
2 stars.

the way i never marked this book as "currently reading" on goodreads bc i kept going back and forth about DNFing it,,,,, take from that what you will :'))

ahh i know this is a hugely unpopular opinion, but i honestly did not like this book at all 😭 i feel so sad about saying this, but i was very, very bored and confused throughout the entirety of the book. it's probably my lack of brain cells, or maybe it's because the world-building and writing were very lackluster, but i actually had NO IDEA what was going on 😩 the two different POVs + timelines between the two sisters were very weird and confusing, and i just felt like nothing, from the characters to the futuristic dystopian world this story was set in, was fully explained or developed. i was just not connected to any of the characters, and did not understand the world, at all.

the only reason i didn't DNF this was because i learned that there's a big reveal at around 57% of the book, and apparently the second half is a lot better. so even though i really, really hated the first half of the book (the pacing was unbearably slow), i trudged on - and when i got to the plot reveal, i was definitely shook and taken aback, i'll give y'all that. 🤯 but also, all of the plot twists in this book were written in an unnecessarily vague and confusing manner ????? i just don't get it. and then the book continued to go downhill from there lmao and didn't fulfill my hopes......sigh. also what the heck was that ending lmao,, i'm still very confused :'))

basically, two words can sum up my feelings towards this book: bored and confused. this book put me into the worst reading slump i've had this year so far. i feel very bad and sorry that i didn't enjoy this book as much as so many other people did, but maybe you'll like it more than i did, especially if you have more brain cells than me (which is very likely lmao) :))
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