Review: Do You Dream of Terra-Two? – In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Dream


Title: Do You Dream of Terra-Two?
Author: Temi Oh
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Release Date: March 7th, 2019
Genre(s): Literature, Sci-Fi
Subjects and Themes: Space expedition
Page Count: 528 (hardback)

Rating: 8.5/10

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A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.

It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong.


So this is an odd, odd book to classify. It’s not a sweeping space adventure in the vein of Interstellar. Nor is it quite the thriller that Gravity is (though there are resemblances in the last 1/4 of the book). And if you ask me what happens in the course of 528 pages, I’d be inclined to answer, “Nothing much.”

But it’s kind of like spending an entire evening plus the early morning hours outside, staring up at the constellations and telling their stories in your head. And next day, when someone asks what you did the other night and you answer, “I did some star-gazing.” And they say, “Sooo, nothing much?”

And you say, “No. Everything. I did everything.”

That might only make sense to me, so a more straight-forward version: in terms of main plot, not much happens, but beneath that there’s a lifetime of stories that are playing out.

Temi Oh’s writing is absolutely beautiful. It’s the kind of prose that’s meant for traversing outer space and cataloguing stars, and it’s got depth to it that goes beyond sounding pretty–a feeling of awe that I think is so key for space-faring stories; a commanding sense of the moment so that even small, seemingly inconsequential scenes feel important in the grand scheme of things; and a melancholy and intimacy that makes it seem like you’ve been with these characters for years when it’s only been a handful of pages.

It’s the kind of prose that teeters between sad and hopeful, and just when you think it’s falling into sadness, hope yanks it back up again.

As for our characters, their stories range from relatable to heartbreaking:

Poppy, the gorgeous linguistics genius who so badly wants to escape the bleakness of her home. The linguistics genius who got into languages in the first place because it was a way to bridge gaps between herself and others–to travel distances with only a few words–and a way to be less lonely in this world (this is a detail I really, really loved).

Astrid and Juno, the Kenyan twins. The former an astrobiologist who signed up for the program because the thought of being the first to chart an unknown world was irresistible. The latter a chemist, more serious and pragmatic.

Ara, an Indian girl who delights in the delights of the world and delights the world in turn.

Eliot, the robotics genius. The only one of the group who was scouted by the Terra-Two project leaders.

Jesse, the dreamy boy who weaves broken shells into his hair. The boy who’s been told that he would leave this world on his twentieth birthday and is hoping that “leaving the world” literally means leaving the world. On a spaceship, to be exact.

Harry, the pilot and commander-in-training. There’s zero doubt in his mind that he was born for this role, and for someone whose life has revolved around being good and winning, this might be the biggest prize of them all.

For a story that’s about heading into the future and opening a new chapter for humanity, it’s a story that’s also about carrying the past. About sifting through the various events in these characters’ lives that led them to stand where they are, as who they are, and the hopes and fears that they carry with them. It reminded me a lot of LOST, in that sense.

As wonderful and interesting as the characters are, I did have one big problem with them. When they’re in their own heads, being all introspective, they brim with complexity and their personalities shine like starlight. When they’re outside of their heads, interacting with each other, they get somewhat less interesting and complex. Dialogues don’t quite fit together, some of the interactions are strangely jagged, and I had trouble differentiating one person’s voice from another.

The good news is that they spend most of the time in their heads. And when they do, it’s mesmerizing, absorbing stuff.

And for someone who’s never experienced a pioneering space mission (presumably), Oh’s depictions of dread and excitement and just the whole range of emotions associated with the process feels remarkably real. She draws out the initial pre-launch tensions beautifully for the first 1/4 of the book, and does the same with the last 1/4. Every part of the experience is detailed and organic.

All in all, Terra-Two is a magnificent debut. If you like happy endings and fast-paced space operas and storylines that are neatly wrapped up and handed on a silver platter, it might not be the book for you. But If you want a quiet and provocative character-driven story that muses on destiny and the nature of humans, I wholeheartedly recommend it.


Review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Tammy March 15, 2019 - 12:53 pm

So glad you loved this! It’s going to be one of my favorite books of the year. And I agree, Oh’s writing is so beautiful it made me cry.

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 17, 2019 - 8:35 am

It’s definitely one of my top 2 books of the year so far!!

evelynreads1 March 15, 2019 - 2:59 pm

Happy to see that you loved it! i bought the ebook recently and am planning on reading it soon! 🙂


Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 17, 2019 - 8:37 am

Ohh that’s so good to hear! I hope you love it!

@lynnsbooks March 15, 2019 - 8:43 pm

Beautiful writing. You had me at ‘hello’. You probably didn’t even say ‘hello’ but never mind! I also read a very favourable review from Tammy so this is definitely on the list.
Lynn 😀

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 21, 2019 - 2:11 am

Haha aww thanks, Lynn! Tammy’s review is actually the only other one I’ve seen for this book, so it’ll be great to have more people reading and reviewing it. Because it totally deserves it. 🙂

A Storm Of Pages March 15, 2019 - 8:49 pm

I had not heard about this book before, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. On the list it goes!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 17, 2019 - 8:33 am

Yay, good to hear!! I actually a little surprised I haven’t been seeing the book around more.

koeur March 16, 2019 - 3:57 am

Good review!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 17, 2019 - 8:31 am

Thank you!

waytoofantasy March 16, 2019 - 7:27 pm

Ah, this sounds so good. Definitely adding it to my list!

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 25, 2019 - 6:58 am

Woot! Hope you enjoy it when you get to it! 🙂

sjhigbee March 16, 2019 - 10:42 pm

I love the fast-paced adventures – but I also love the other sort too… Thank you for a fabulous review – I’ve now added this to my ‘must-read’ list for the year:))

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 19, 2019 - 12:29 am

Oh I’m so glad to hear that! And I think it might interest you to hear that it’s got some similarities to Becky Chamber’s series, though it’s quite a bit sadder in tone!

sjhigbee March 19, 2019 - 11:37 am

That’s part of Chambers’ charm, isn’t it? Her upbeat vibe, without appearing stupidly optimistic…

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 21, 2019 - 1:49 am

Absolutely! I haven’t come across another author who does it as well as her. 🙂

maddalena@spaceandsorcery March 18, 2019 - 6:22 pm

As the famous catchphrase goes, space is indeed the final frontier, not just for the boundaries of our home world, but for those of our minds and souls: this story sounds like a fascinating exploration of people, and your description of a “character-driven” novel makes for an unmissable read. Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

Aurora Librialis March 18, 2019 - 8:35 pm

You’re the only person I know who makes me fall in love with books I haven’t even read yet ❤️

(That feeling of awe is the reason I read sci-fi)

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 25, 2019 - 7:19 am

Mission. Accomplished. (And UGH, why are you so sweet? ❤️ ❤️ ❤️)

And it’s funny, I thought I didn’t scifi books when I was younger! I thought they were mostly about things like string theory and thermodynamics–“hard science” basically–and I was like, “No thanks. I can read that stuff in my textbooks.” But books like this proved me SO wrong.

Aurora Librialis March 25, 2019 - 8:35 pm

That’s exactly what I thought too! I didn’t think I’d “get them” cause I’m so useless at technology. But rag-tag crews and space adventures proved me wrong too ❤️

Norrie March 21, 2019 - 8:01 am

The more i see this, the more i want to read it.
Kinda reminds me of Sleeping Beauties (King) in terms of “nothing happens but everything happens”. I quite like those kind of books if the characters are interesting enough.
The emotional aspects of their journey is quite intriguing as well 🙂

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky March 25, 2019 - 7:29 am

Yeah, the characters have a LOT going on with them, so I think you’ll find at least one of them interesting. 😀 And I still need to give Sleeping Beauties a try!

Favorite Posts: March 2019 – Aurora Librialis April 1, 2019 - 9:07 am

[…] @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky wrote a beautiful review of Do You Dream of Terra-Two?  and made me fall in love with another book I haven’t […]


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