Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Book Review: Semiosis (Semiosis Duology #1) by Sue Burke

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Semiosis
  * Series: Semiosis Duology #1
Author: Sue Burke
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Source: Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy science fiction rife with survival, and with deep roots to nature.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In this character driven novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke, human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance.

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that mammals are more than tools.

Forced to land on a planet they aren't prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape--trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.
My footing in the genre of Science Fiction is still a little rocky. I've been trying to stretch outside my comfort zone, and pick up more books that I wouldn't normally read. So when Semiosis came along as a review opportunity, I jumped on it. What caught my eye about Sue Burke's story was the fact that this book isn't just about space colony survivalists, but also about their deep connection with the nature around them. Give me a book about sentient plants, and you have my attention! I'm happy to report that this book really impressed me.

I'll admit, it did take me a whole generation (essentially a chapter) to really settle in to this book. The humble beginnings of the colonists were intriguing, but confusing. I had to learn their day to day workings, their history, and even their speech. However as I read, and as the generations of colonists slowly started to float by, I became fully immersed in this story. Burke does an amazing job of picking the perfect spokesperson from each generation, someone who is right on the inside, to tell the current story. I watched as the people when from barely surviving, to thriving within the ecosystem that had once terrified them. As they learned, I learned, and it made me feel like a part of it all.

Semiosis has so many ethical quandaries to consider. Whether to live with nature, or to force it to conform to humanity is one of the biggest. The colonists slowly learn that giving the intelligence of the world around them the credit that it is due, helps everyone. There is also a fascinating discussion of merging two cultures. When faced with a the prospect of whether to completely destroy one another, or to work together, things are predictably split. I actually loved this portion of the book. It was a bit violent, but also fascinating. To watch two sets of beings who can't understand one another ever so slowly learn to mesh. I was so caught up in the debates of the colonists. It was intriguing to watch them essentially forge a brand new society from the ground up, and try not to make the same mistakes as on Earth. After all, if we don't learn from our mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. Right?

To wrap things up, because I don't know how to really discuss this book without ruining anything, Semiosis was so much more than I expected. Yes, it was a little slow at the beginning. Yes, I had to push through the first chapter to learn how this new world worked. However the multi-generational storytelling really caught me up, and I ultimately finished this book with a smile on my face. It was surreal how obsessed I became with these people as I watched them grow. That's a huge nod to Sue Burke's writing.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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