I received and ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Firstly, let me say this is not the typical Sci-fi book I’d normally read. Now I have a blog up and running and have invited others to join me, I am working on expanding my reading horizons and promoting diversity. It is also the first book I have read by Laura Lam. I can safely say I enjoyed this book, having read it over two days.
Goldilocks follows an all-female crew of 5, who steal a spaceship and set out on a journey to Cavendish—an earth-like planet capable of supporting life. The backdrop is that Earth is approaching an apocalypse. Estimations state Earth will only remain habitable for roughly 30 more years; humans must find a new home by then. The political climate is heavily misogynistic: women are being passed over for new jobs and promotions, discouraged from working after giving birth, eliminated from contention for work in space, and myriad of other oppressive actions.
A lot of interesting topics are eluded to in Goldilocks, ones that make you think about where our future, in real life, may lead on our current course: global warming; meat being produced in vats; growing organs; growing babies in wombs outside the body; private police and firefighters; large walls holding back the seas; flooding; mass numbers of refugees; ownership and laws on other planets; vast differences in wealth and its distribution; and even the internet is so expensive it’s a luxury for the few. At one point a statement is made regarding the “ramshackle housing” many live in and how they are not classed as a permanent residence, and therefore, those people cannot vote.
Though these topics are eluded too, they are not explored, and I think an opportunity was missed there. I was asking myself a lot of questions regarding the above, as I do in life anyway, and wanted to know more about the world-state in Goldilocks. It wouldn’t be possible to explore it all, but there were some opportunities, and other opportunities could have been created, to explore these topics. Eluding to these topics brings up an awful lot of question about life on Earth in the book.
“Nasa, in conjunction with Chine, Russia, Europe, and Japan are doing excellent work on their terraforming of Mars. But that project will take decades, maybe even up to a century, and, frankly, we don’t have that long.”Valarie
As mentioned, the story focuses on five women who steal the spaceship and their journey; it is told from the perspective of Valerie Black—a very rich person who is the mastermind behind the plan and leader of the group—and Naomi Lovelace—a leading botanist who was raised by Valerie after her parents died. The other members of the crew are Oksana Lebedeva (engineer), Irene Hart (doctor) and Nixon (pilot and I can’t remember or find her first name). Hart and Nixon are a married couple. The names of the crew were used inconsistently at times, at least to me. Hart, Nixon and Lebedeva were almost exclusively, referred to by their surname, yet Valarie and Naomi almost exclusively referred to by the forenames. On the ship, there is a command structure and surnames are therefore the norm, understandably, but it wasn’t always the case for Valarie and Naomi. This could just be me and my brain patterns, but I did find myself a little confused for a split second at times.
Regarding the crew, I thought opportunities were missed for more dialogue among crew members. It wasn’t until chapter 13 (possibly 14) that the crew had an important dialogue between them. You learn a lot about Valarie and Naomi, as many chapters are set in the past, painting pictures of events that led us to the present moment. I felt like I really knew both by the end; I understood their motivations. I was invested. I can’t say the same about the other crew members. We know bits about them but not much. Just one small chapter for each would have been enough to satisfy curiosity. Or use conversations and interactions on the ship to bring out their personalities. We learn Lebedeva is effectively not allowed back into Russia, but not much more. At one point, Hart discussed how Hixon didn’t leave a lot behind, how she hadn’t had a relationship with her parents since coming out. In this instance, a chance to explore the situation for members of the LGBTQ+ community in this future Earth was also missed. And in turn. A chance to challenge the prejudice and perspective of some towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Yes, these three are secondary characters, but they are on the ship with Valerie and Naomi and I didn’t think I got to know them enough. The book isn’t long and there was room to have a chapter for each of the other three crew members, which I don’t believe would have detracted from the book or story; I believe it would have enhanced it and made me more invested in Hart, Hixon and Lebedeva.
As I’ve said, I enjoyed Goldilocks. Overall, It’s a well-crafted story. What I was expecting to happen, was obviously not going to about 60% into the book, making me guess again. I saw a few probable scenarios, but I was still guessing towards the end until the story became apparent. The pace of the book increases around the 75% mark and it got me going. It tapers down at the end, with an ending I didn’t expect, after the main story if you like, and it becomes somewhat reflective which I liked.
Furthermore, I like it when a book gets me thinking. Yes, I had a lot of questions about the world in the book, some of which I’d like to have seen developed, but it made me think about our own situation in the real world. There are ethical and practical questions we’ll need to answer ourselves in the not too distant future.
It’s been good for me to expand my horizons and read outside of my very comfortable zone. I’m glad I did! I would happily recommend this book to others. If this is your usual type of read, I suspect this book will be a 4* for you, maybe more.