Freefall is a Fun New YA Sci-fi Adventure

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Freefall

In Joshua David Bellin’s new YA sci-fi, FREEFALL, humanity has destroyed the earth and must seek a new home. A relatively small – and carefully selected – group are granted access to the mission, dooming those left behind to die. They will enter into cryogenic sleep for a thousand years, during which they’ll be transported to a brand new, habitable planet. While the wealthy Upperworlders take the best ship for themselves, the poor and marginalized Lowerworlders are stuck on the supply ship, the Freefall. Unfortunately, when all passengers awaken one thousand years in the future, they find themselves on a scary, uninhabitable planet full of monsters, where daylight temperatures are brutal enough to fry you in seconds. Something – or someone – sabotaged the ships so they wouldn’t reach their planned destinations.

Cam Newell, a privileged Upperworlder from a wealthy family, must figure out what happened to the ships that caused them to stray so far off course – and find Sofie, the Lowerworld activist he loves – all while staying alive on this treacherous planet. Told in alternating timelines, Freefall shows the events leading up to the trip – and Cam’s mission to save everyone he loves from the hostile planet.

In the past, Cam lives in a futuristic world run by huge corporations instead of politicians and governments. He first sees Sofie on TV, slowly falls for her despite the rampant discrimination against Lowerworlders, and joins the Lowerworlders’ movement to be included in the mission to the new planet. In the present, Cam fights to survive while saving his loved ones and learning the truth behind what happened.

I enjoyed this book! I’ve always been a fan of the “people are put into cryogenic sleep for hundreds of years but something goes wrong” trope, and I thought Bellin put a fresh spin on it. The concept was really intriguing, and I can see this being a cool movie.

The corporation-run earth was very interesting to me, and I liked the twist on the usual dystopian government trope. Sadly, it’s a world I can picture happening in real life. I loved that the resistance leaders were women -- and, more specifically, women of color. The hostile planet was very creepy and scary – I couldn’t stop turning the pages, and I really believed in the tension and the stakes. There’s also a cool character twist in the end that I didn’t see coming.

There was a lot of instalove. Cam’s entire motivation was based on his love for Sofie, but I wasn’t really buying the romance. They didn’t have much chemistry (or at least, we rarely saw them interact), yet he sees her once on TV and decides he’s madly in love with her, enough to upend his life and leave his family. I guess I wanted a little more development of their relationship to be believable.

Sofie’s character also felt a little exoticized to me. I think I would have preferred if Cam’s involvement in the resistance was based more on “wow, the way we treat Lowerworlders is wrong – they deserve respect and equality too” rather than “I’m going to join this movement because the leader is hot.” I would have liked to see more of Cam really involving himself in the cause because it’s the right thing to do. Nevertheless, I still liked his character, and I liked how he developed throughout the book. 

This was a page-turning YA adventure with a fresh take on traditional sci-fi space travel. Many of the themes in the book – discrimination, protests, systemic inequalities – are topics that are all too relevant today. I think YA sci-fi fans will enjoy this! 

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0