Title: Goldilocks (review copy)
Author: Laura Lam
Genre/Themes: Science Fiction, Thriller, Feminism/Equality, Climate Catastrophe
Blurb from Goodreads
The Earth is in environmental collapse. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. But a team of women are preparing to save it. Even if they’ll need to steal a spaceship to do it.
Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.
The team is humanity’s last hope for survival, and Valerie has gathered the best women for the mission: an ace pilot who is one of the only astronauts ever to have gone to Mars; a brilliant engineer tasked with keeping the ship fully operational; and an experienced doctor to keep the crew alive. And then there’s Naomi Lovelace, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, who has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity to step out of Valerie’s shadow and make a difference.
The problem is that they’re not the authorised crew, even if Valerie was the one to fully plan the voyage. When their mission is stolen from them, they steal the ship bound for the new planet.
But when things start going wrong on board, Naomi begins to suspect that someone is concealing a terrible secret — and realises time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared . . .
Goldilocks is a bold and thought-provoking new thriller for readers of The Martian and The Handmaid’s Tale.
“Goldilocks” is pitched as The Martian meets The Handmaid’s Tale as it marries issues of women’s rights with a space set storyline about the earth trying to solve issues of climate change by creating a new home for humanity on a distant planet.
And while it is an incredibly thought provoking read with an interesting plot I feel that the book could have been so much more.
The story begins with five women stealing a spaceship from NASA and their attempts to make it to a new Earth-like planet called Cavendish. The book is told from the perspective of one of these women, Naomi Lovelace, who is the botanist on board the Atalanta.
We are told that Earth’s climate has been greatly affected…that in fact the earth is essentially dying as the land available to populate is ever diminishing and sickness and viruses are on the increase. And we are told that men and men’s rights are to the fore of this near future set society… but I felt I was missing something. I needed to understand how the earth got to this state. I needed to hear more about how women’s rights have been eroded, the whys behind the child tax and the expectations that women stay at home etc.
I just wish that the author had spent a little more time creating a backstory / history for all these events. So much of the time reading this book I felt I had to just accept things at face value as the novel placed much of the storytelling emphasis on telling but not showing. It’s a shame because the book did contain flashback chapters which I enjoyed as they added to the personal histories of the characters of Naomi and Valerie greatly but these chapters could also have been used to create more of a general history for the book.
And as for the women on the spaceship… I genuinely didn’t understand their motivations for stealing the ship. Yes they wanted to create a haven on Cavendish and they felt that the government was making the wrong decisions as they were now male-centric…. but I was scratching my head a lot of the time wondering why they felt that they were the right five to do this. Okay…the leader Valerie… she was certainly given backstory and reason for her presence on the ship as the exploration of her motives pretty much dictated the latter half of the book. But the others just seemed like anonymous sheep that followed whatever she said. I didn’t quite understand what they thought they would achieved by landing on Cavendish first.
Out of the five women on board the spaceship I feel I only fully understand one of them and that’s Valerie. Even Naomi from whose perspective this book is told from didn’t quite give me that connection to her motivations and I found her quite a passive character with whom I struggled to empathise.
What I did enjoy however was the science aspect of this book. There were lots of issues that the crew of the Atalanta had to face on their journey and I very much enjoyed seeing how they had to *science* their way out of problems.
As science fiction and a thriller this book works well (somewhat melodramatic with its climax yet still enjoyable), but it just suffered a bit with its dystopian aspect due to a lack of backstory. However this was very well written, thoroughly engaging and makes for an interesting observational piece re the climate crisis and erosion of women’s rights.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Expected publication: April 30th 2020