My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Planetfall came to me well-recommended from a number of sources (two CPs, and my agent) so I was keen to give it a try.
Overall a very enjoyable book, and one I read at a fast pace. The mix of nuanced interiority, bizarre setting, and interpersonal drama appealed to me to a lot, with a touch of New Weird.
Structurally, though, I sometimes found myself frustrated. Reveals were erratically staggered; the narrative swung abruptly between interpersonal drama overarching plot. The effect is I feel like I’m learning no information at all for stretches of time, then lots of information all at once.
The ending also felt rushed, I think this is down to the same structural issues. Without wanting to get into spoilers, Ren beings the novel with a certain set of firmly-held opinions, and changes them towards the end of the story. But the reveals are staggered in such a way that there is not quite enough time to process Ren’s emotional transition, so the arc feels somewhat abrupt.
Overall, it’s rather like having a meal where, just as you are starting to enjoy one dish, it’s taken away with you and swapped with another; and just as you are acclimatising to eating in that fashion, you’re given a bite of dessert and shoved out the door.
If I were beta-reading this (I’m not, but you know) my feedback would be that the plot point reveals could do with smoothing out, or perhaps being better integrated with the drama in Ren’s life. All the ‘heavy lifting’ for Ren’s transition would then be done in advance and perhaps make the ending feel more like a natural conclusion, rather than a surprising plot twist which finishes too quickly.
Criticisms aside, I want to stress that I did enjoy it, and would have happily read it all in one sitting had the kids allowed. I’d probably choose a 3.7 rating if I could but Goodreads doesn’t allow that sort of a thing.