Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most
*I was granted early access to this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review – thank you so much to Text Publishing for sending me an ARC*
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a compelling, creative and lush gem of a novel which I sped through over the course of a couple of days. Having read Joan He’s other novel Descendant of The Crane and loving it, I was so excited when I first heard about this book and seeing how much of a departure this was from that. Versatility? Range? Legendary status? Joan has it all.
I’ll say from the get go that I think this book won’t be everyones cup of tea, some of the choices in this novel are unique in a sense – and it does get kind of confusing at times. I did find myself having to re-read certain parts, especially when it came to the world building and how the eco cities / eco aspects operate. Once I got my head around it all though, I was super into it. The pacing is also a tad slow in the first half, so do keep this in mind if slow paced books are usually not your thing.
On the surface this is a story about two sisters separated by unforeseen circumstances, Cee is desperately trying to find her way back to Kasey, after she wakes up on an abandoned island with slivers of memory of her sister, while Kasey is trying to come to terms with Cee’s disappearance. The dual perspectives work so well here and I really enjoyed how different these two characters were, not only in the way they move through the world but their physical setting too captured my interest. While Kasey navigates the different rungs of the eco city she calls home, Cee is on an island, with only a trusted bot for company. I really liked the island setting and how it just adds to the mystery and sense of Cee being utterly alone.
There was something incredibly beautiful about the island but also that sense of listlessness and foreboding as each and every time Cee tries to leave, she somehow finds herself back on its shores. I LOVED how the island tied in to the wider story and the explanation as to why and how she came to be there in the first place. I had so many theories whilst reading but I have to say, Joan He surprised me again and again with all the different threads she wove so deftly in this book. One overwhelming one being the impact of grief and loss too.
The whole concept of an eco city and the ways that humanity has had to move forward in the novel, in a sense is all down to climate change. There’s a strong message here about responsibility to yourself, others and the planet and I quite liked this thread and think it’s definitely an important one to note. I think it’s especially fascinating and sad in a sense as the concept of eco-cities and having to leave a degraded land doesn’t seem implausible given the current climate crisis we’re facing. There’s many levels on which this consciousness of the environment and preserving life works, just trust me when you read the book you’ll see how integral this is to the core of the story.
I really enjoyed the direction the story took in the latter parts of the novel, there was such weight to it all and I genuinely didn’t know what the characters would decide to do. It was very much a crossroads moment for them all so it was interesting to read as they forge their own paths. I know that’s really vague but I really don’t want to spoil this book for anyone – it needs to be experienced without any hints or spoilers.
I truly loved this book beyond words and I could honestly go on for ages so I’ll conclude here, but trust me – read this book! I would especially recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries, sci fi / fantasy entwined with a contemporary or real world feel.
Until next time,