Satellite by Nick Lake
|Satellite by Nick Lake|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Poetic, stylish science fiction set in a water-deficient future. Teenager Leo has never set foot on Earth. What will it be like when he does?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480||Date: October 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Born and raised, along with twins Orion and Libra, on the space station Moon 2, Leo has never set foot on Earth. And yet, everyone calls it home. Moon 2 orbits about 250 miles above Earth. It travels at 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every ninety minutes. If you ever look out of the porthole beneath, you'll usually see ocean. What would it be like to see the ocean for real? Leo and the twins may soon be able to do that now that they are teenagers and the scientists below think they are strong enough to come home. Each has their own idea of what it will be like and what they would like to do. Orion wants to go to a concert. Libra wants to dig her hands in soil. Leo wants to throw a ball and observe its arc. Everyone wants to see a bird in flight.
The three have been parented by a team of astronauts and scientists. They've been preparing for this moment all their lives. But can anything really prepare them for what they will find once they are on terra firma? And have the scientists at the Company really told them everything they need to know?
There are secrets. There is danger. And impossible odds to face.
As a reviewer, I've come to Satellite relatively late. Usually, I'm writing about books before what everyone else has to say about it has arrived on the internet. But my copy of Satellite arrived after its publication date and I couldn't resist having a nosy at what everyone else thought about it before saying anything myself. And I was quite surprised to see that the emphasis everywhere has been on Lake's decision to make Leo use textspeak - he says c for see, u for you, doesn't use capital letters and suchlike. I suppose this is worthy of note - it's not a teen thing, it's a conserving-every-effort-in-space thing - but it seems like such a non-issue with regard to the book as a whole, which exudes quality, subtlety and poetry from every single page. It makes the book sound simple. And it really, really isn't. But there you go. There is, as Lake puts it, some silly orthography and now you know about it.
Much more importantly, I think you should also know that Satellite is a novel of great beauty. The prose is careful but expansive and technical but poetic. The glories and wonders of space and science breathe through every line but so do the more quotidian experiences of tasting ice cream for the first time, or seeing a bird in flight, or hearing music played live and not through your headphones. It's a mystery thriller at its heart - secrets are being kept from Leo and Orion and Libra, but what are they? - but it moves at a slow, luxurious pace, unlike most thrillers. And Lake finds room for so much that is of interest to his young readers - family dynamics, sexuality, gender expression, finding love, coming-of-age, climate change, the list seems almost endless. And it's seamless; nothing shoe-horned in.
I don't know what to tell you other than that Nick Lake is one of the highest quality authors writing for our young people today. His range is exceptional and he can capture human experience with poetic detail. And in Satellite he wrote a kiss that made me cry for its beauty and sadness.
If Satellite appeals to you, I can imagine you'd also love The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick - four fabulous stories from different time frames linked by the natural constant of the spiral. And there's more classy sci-fi looking at how humans are affected by living in space in the wonderful WE by John Dickinson. Slightly younger readers wanting to read about science and space will love Phoenix by SF Said.
You can read more book reviews or buy Satellite by Nick Lake at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Satellite by Nick Lake at Amazon.com.
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