Book Review: The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He || concept? brilliant. execution? not so much

Hiya everyone! How are you doing?

I certainly hope your state of mind is better than mine at the moment. I have this big exam coming up tomorrow, and exhaustion, anticipation, tension (but also a little relief) have built themselves a cozy home in my brain. But lets not go into the woes of us students’ because we have a review of a very anticipated release of mine today! Very exciting, right? *wiggles eyebrows*

The Ones We're Meant to Find

Title: The Ones We’re Meant To Find

Author: Joan He

Genre/Age group: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis

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, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city 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 nevertheless, she 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.

Buddy read with the lovely Janhavi @A Cottage Of Words!

Is it my fault I started reading this book with very high expectations? After hearing countless times how this book was the best of the best (not the exact terminology, but you get the point) and then after reading that amazing synopsis (don’t even get me started on the gorgeous cover), I really thought this was right up my alley. Boy was I wrong.

Imagine this. You are hurtled into a speeding train without any warning. And you’ve got no idea where it’s from, where it’s going to, who are the people around you etc etc. Apart from the obvious physical implications (ouch!) you know that impending feeling of… confusion? Okay so perhaps not the best metaphor, but this was how I felt for the entirety of this book.

Of course I don’t expect to understand every single thing in a sci-fi set decades (centuries? millennia?) in the future. But if I am reading a book, I should at least have an idea about the plot? I have a rule against using gifs in my reviews, otherwise I would have used this opportunity flaunt something of the type, “What’s going on??”. Maybe its just me, but the technological terms, the constantly switching timelines and loads of other stuff was totally beyond my comprehension skills.

“The problem with oceans? They always seem smaller from the shore.”

Let’s talk about what I liked before we go full attack mode again. Number one, the concept behind the story. It was extremely cool, intriguing and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Next comes the world building and the atmosphere. There were several elements which were so interesting to grasp. A city in the sky? “Holoing”? Oh, and the best one was that humans actually invented something that would prompt you with the best phrases during a speech/conversation! I am terrible at socializing, so an AI like that would be incredibly helpful at awkward conversations that I have to face at social events.

So one of our main characters, Celia, is stranded on an island with almost no memories, and for a while, the entire survival plot was done really well (and no it wasn’t turned into a Swiss Family Robinson kinda thing) though I found some things like a ready made house and a robot a little to convenient. But I am willing to overlook that, and I will go as far as to say that I enjoyed reading Celia’s chapters (chapters told from her POV) for most part of the book. Kasey’s though… they were a whole different thing.

Before we go deeper let me introduce you to our two protagonists. Celia is the older sister – a cheerful, outgoing personality (before getting stranded on an island alone of course) who apparently hated the artificiality of their futuristic world. Kasey is a couple years younger than Celia and a polar opposite – introverted, would rather be around gadgets than people, extremely logical and scientific. Due to this, Kasey is often branded as insensitive.

“When I dream of her, it’s in vibrant color, unlike the gradients of gray of my monochrome days. But everything is hazy when I wake. The details merge. The colors fade.”

In the beginning, I found that I could relate to Kasey. Party-awkwardness, a little inexpressiveness are some traits I have in common with her. But the chapters after that were a roller coaster, and not a fun one at that. Literally all the chapters from Kasey’s point-of-view were difficult to grasp, and after a while I began skimming through them. *mock gasp* Yes I know it is a sin in the bookish tradition, but you do get how boring those parts must have been right? They just felt so bland, especially when compared to Celia’s chapters, which were mostly full of colour (omg now those you’ve read the book might think I am mocking Celia, but the pun was unintentional i swear). It came as a huge surprise to me that for once, I actually preferred a first-person narrative over third-person (Celia’s chapters were 1st person POV, Kasey’s were 3rd person) as I generally tend to dislike books with first person narrative *cough* the infinity courts *cough*.

No one, and I repeat, no one has ever mentioned this book without talking about the shocking twists, so I figured I’d cover that too. The thing is, I was waiting for my mind to completely blow up, but I ended up feeling a little underwhelmed by the plot twists. I remember thinking, this was what everybody was talking about? this is it??

Some of the side characters like Hero and Actinum were nicely written, and while I appreciate that, the ending made even less sense than the rest of the story. A character suddenly becomes the “villain” for the last couple of chapters… I mean, what??

Okay that was one chaotic review, but at least it covered everything I wanted to say. Overall, I was very disappointed, but 2.5 stars seems like a fair rating to me.

Have you read The Ones We’re Meant To Find? Which is your favourite book set in the future? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

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