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Published by Roaring Brook Press on May 4, 2021
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Representation: Asian American
Format: ARC, eBook
One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.
Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.
A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.
Trigger Warnings: per author - terminal illness, suicide, violence (including choking), death, death of parent (off page), vomiting, large scale natural disasters and mass casualties, some gore
Buddy Read with Kal from Reader Voracious!
Long story short, The Ones We’re Meant to Find kept me thinking while reading the book and even after I’ve closed the pages because this review was a struggle to write. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about the novel that I’m not even sure I can even put into words properly.
Joan He’s sophomore novel is filled with unpredictable twists and turns that kept me on my toes from the first page when we first meet Cee and Kasey all the way to the very end. I was constantly guessing and probably had enough theories to feed me for an entire week, but this comes as no surprise since her debut novel Descendant of the Crane kept me guessing just as much.
I adored Cee and Kasey as the protagonists of the story and loved how Joan He wrote this in alternating viewpoints rather than from one or the other. They’re complete polar opposites, with Cee having a sociable and friendly personality and always wanting an adventure while Kasey comes across as someone “cold, emotionless, and buried in data*” but is really someone who struggles with emotions and unpredictable scenarios. I loved their bond (although not the greatest, who says sibling relationships aren’t messy?) and their common goal of finding each other in their own ways.
*I feel this to my core, though.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is set in a futuristic world where climate change has affected the population enough that major storms are the norm, and those privileged enough can afford to live away from those storms. I liked how Joan He explores climate change and touches upon the privileges some of the characters have. Although I was sometimes confused with the world, enough information is constantly provided without feeling overwhelmed.
However, this was a bit of a struggle, with the pacing not picking up until after the halfway point, although I was engaged and invested in finding out what would happen to Cee and Kasey – enough that I didn’t want to shelve the book. I think I got used to the pacing enough that when things began to pick up, the rest of the book felt a little rushed for me. But much like Descendant of the Crane, there is much to be desired from Joan He’s latest novel. The ending is very open, with questions that are left unanswered and depending on your reading preferences, unsatisfactory. For me, it was the latter, because while I don’t mind open endings, The Ones We’re Meant to Find felt open enough that I felt the ending backfired and there are too many questions that are left unanswered.
While my biggest quip with The Ones We’re Meant to Find is the pacing and ending, there are a lot of things that I did enjoy overall. If you’re looking for a novel exploring climate change and touching privilege with a strong sibling bond and Asian protagonists, and don’t mind an open ending, this may be up your alley. But if your biggest pet peeve is not having all your questions answered, you might want to look elsewhere.