REVIEW: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

It’s time for another ARC review! This week, we have a forthcoming young adult climate fiction novel for your consideration. The book is The Ones We’re Meant to Find and it’s forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, out on May 4, 2021. Young Adult, Climate Fiction, Science Fiction.

This story is told through two viewpoint characters. One, Cee, is trapped on an island, trying to get home. The other, Kay, is the resident of a city in the clouds, whose sister is lost. Both characters exist in a near future that posits the collapse of the environment, leaving large portions of the globe mostly uninhabitable. In this imagined future, your hereditary impact on the environment is ranked — you pay for the sins of your parents as well as your own. Those from traditionally heavily-polluting families are unable to enter the relatively safe cloud cities. Living in a cloud city means an emphasis on virtual over physical interactions, subsisting on nutrient mixes instead of cooked food, anything that can minimize your environmental footprint as humans struggle to avoid further damaging their fragile environment.

I’m always a sucker for a cli-fi novel, and this premise was no exception. The technology explored in the novel was really interesting and inventive, building off of current trends in science and technology, as well as climate degradation. There’s also a pleasing story structure here, and I think the author really does a good job of redirecting reader expectations a few times in the story — there were a couple of twists that did not go the way I expected them. While there were moments where the story dragged for me in either Cee’s plot or Kay’s, the balancing of the two viewpoints maintains tension. I stayed engaged throughout.

There’s not a lot more I can say without spoiling things except that YA is not my preferred genre all the time, and there are some YA tropes in here. Despite that I still enjoyed this book, which is a feat in and of itself. If you are a YA fan, I’d recommend this book to folks who loved Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi or Divergent by Veronica Roth. I look forward to seeing what Joan He produces in the future.

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