In the distant wake of a plague that has decimated the Earth's population, humanity is split in two. The rich and powerful live in skycities that float overhead, while those who remain on the ground have gathered in settlements strewn across a dying planet. Eighteen-year-old Terra Rhodon makes her living as a scav, scouting the earth for discarded scraps and metals to recycle for profit. While on a routine scavenging run, she discovers something that shocks her home settlement of Genesis X-16.
Terra suddenly finds herself asking questions no one will answer. Fueled by curiosity, her search for the truth ultimately leads her to Adam--a beguiling boy with a secret that has the power to change humanity's existence forever.
The idea of rich and poor having separate lives isn't a new idea, but it’s one that can be interpreted in many different ways. In the world of Gretchen Powell’s terra, the wealthy live in cities that float over the earth, and can quite literally look down on anybody not fortunate enough to be able to leave what is now a dying planet. Earth is little more than a wasteland, but it's the home of Terra Rhodon, who is a scav, think ‘scavenger,’ finding metal and scraps that she can sell to survive. But then, Terra find something unusual on one of her scouting trips. At first nobody wants to tell her what she’s found. It’s ‘classified,’ but Terra asks questions, and she sets out to discover the truth, no matter what it may be, or where it leads. Along the way, she finds a young man named Adam, whose secret may alter the course of humanity.
The world that Powell has imagined is like today’s Earth, but further down the road, there are sci-fi elements, but also a thread of caution moves throughout the story. This is the kind of world that people could wind up inhabiting if there aren’t changes, and social hierarchies aren’t brought under control. People scrape by, eat food pills, and collect whatever meager credits they can for being scavs.
As the main character, Terra is an eighteen year-old who has grown up knowing that plagues ravage everyone, the sun blazes, rain burns, and the rich couldn’t care less about what happens to anybody they don’t know. She isn’t naive or sweet, but she does have a curious nature that hasn’t been eradicated by a difficult life.
Without giving away the plot, it’s safe to say that there are twists and turns in the story that are a pleasant surprise, the technology and environment are all believable, and the characters are well-fleshed out. Terra isn’t all-knowing, and while intelligent, she makes believable mistakes, often has to think on her feet, and adapts as best she can when her idea of ‘normal’ drops out from underneath her.
This could be your world, Powell is telling readers, but it’s definitely Terra’s, and she navigates it with determination, and a longing for answers that makes her story engrossing and entertaining. With a second book currently being written, it’s a good bet that Terra and her Earth will grow, and discover how to upset the status quo. The lesson is one that should resonate with a wide audience, and give them something to reflect on.