This is a dark and creative science fiction novel about the spaceship Noah, carrying the remnants of Earth to a new planet, called “Canaan” for a new start. As the story begins, the ship has been traveling for 346 years, and is one-third of the way to Canaan.
Hana Dempsey, 30, is a talented City Planning Administrator on the Noah who begins a relationship below her social ranking (much to the chagrin of her friends) with a policeman, Leon Barrens. The two also embark on a professional collaboration after Hana agrees to use her computer talent to help Leon find out what happened to his former mentor, who suffered a gruesome death.
At first, Barrens believes the ship’s administration is covering up the existence of a sick, vicious killer, but they two keep finding more evidence that something much more sinister is afoot. The ship is not what they think it is, nor do the assumptions they have been taught about their lives turn out to be true. But the bigger question turns out to be: what if the truth is unbearable? Is the governing council of the ship really evil, or have they made the most rational, workable decision for the greatest good? And what is the moral course to take the information they have uncovered?
Discussion: This book is loaded with innovative story lines – maybe a bit too many to be contained in one book. (Ironically, in the story, characters suffer from having too much data at once stuffed into their heads. It seems almost like a complaint readers could make.) This book is: science fiction about the future of the Earth; a crime story; a love story; a study of small group dynamics; and a futuristic exposition (almost an “Expo” in fact) of the possibilities of technological advancements. Other subjects that weave through the story include genetic and gender determination, the fine line between wise governance and despotism, and the danger of not only having imperfect information, but the perils of having too much information as well.
In addition to the storyline overload, some of the riffs on computer networking seem overly obscure (and therefore overly elaborated upon).
I think the ending was supposed to be uplifting, but I found it hugely depressing. That was not a minus, however, but rather testimony to how vividly the author depicted the dilemma of Noah’s Ark.
On the positive side, the relationship between Hana and Leon was just lovely. I particularly liked the way Hana described how she and Leon relaxed after work together:
“…once in a while, … we have coffee at a cheap cafe where nobody knows us…. He does not talk much about the simmering red inside of him, and I don’t talk about my blues; we just sit together, sometimes listening quietly to the amateur jazz performers on the stage, and sometimes, our fingers touch, and we don’t say ‘Bye.'”
And while there are possibly too many plot threads, I found most of them to be interesting and thought-provoking.
Published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan, 2014