If you grew up in rundown space station where food is recycled sludge and orphans scavenge in the trash heaps, a colony ship where fresh food is plentiful and all your needs are provided for might seem like paradise. If you grew up on that ship, having the freedom to choose your own path, your profession, your own mate, might seem more important.
In Aubrie Dionne’s new novel, Paradise 21, Aries plots her escape and sets her course to a primitive dessert planet to achieve her freedom. For her, the dangerous planet where she expects to be the only human alive, is preferable to living in a gilded cage for the sole purpose of passing on her DNA to some future generation that might one day colonize the elusive Paradise 21 planet.
Once she arrives the hardships are far more perilous than she expected, but a marooned outworlder stranded there takes her under his wing and helps her find a new mission and new hope for her future. Striker was captain of his own ship until his crew mutinied, leaving him alone for five years. Instead of giving up he has been working on way to escape and fulfill his own dreams.
Paradise 21 was a great reading experience with high stakes, great tension in the action scenes, and an uplifting ending. It shines brightest by letting the reader see and understand the very different perspectives of all of the characters. Even the villains of the piece are relatable; with their own belief systems and reasons for what they do. Aubrie makes you think about paradise and what it means. It made me think about the film version of The Grinch and the line (paraphrased): one man’s toxic waste is another man’s potpourri.
What I loved about the heroine: Aires has a charming mix of naïveté and intelligence. She isn’t dumb. She plans her escape very well and makes extensive preparations. She knows she could still die and takes that leap of faith anyway. Despite her planning she isn’t really prepared for life beyond the safe, secure world she knows, but she is full of hope and a yearning for freedom that is infectious.
What I loved about the hero: Striker is a mix of worldliness and idealism. He knows how screwed up his world is and he knows what he has to do to survive but he isn’t willing to sacrifice his ideals or his efforts to make the world a better place. He is compassionate and he values that trait in others. It makes him a good match for Aires.
My copy of Paradise 21 was kindly provided by the author and her publisher. The book is currently available from Entangled Publishing and from a variety of retailers.
So what is your idea of paradise? Would you accept the pampered life of a DNA donor and the computer chosen mate and career or strike out on your own?