It was the cover design, that had caught my eye from the beginning. And with the combination of an interesting-sounding summary, I asked for this book. I can´t tell you what my expectation was, besides of getting a good story to read. But while reading it, I discovered that I didn´t get emotionally involved with neither the plot nor the story itself. But as always, read the novel yourself and see how you think about it.

Solartopia-Am Anfang Der Welt*
by Victoria Hume
Solartopia Dilogy #1
Translation Katrin Segerer
Original Title Turris
Publisher Fischer KJB on October 25, 2023
Genre Future Fiction
Pages 307
Format Hardcover
Source Fischer KJB

For as long as she can remember, sixteen-year-old Nova has lived with her best friend Finn in Turris, a huge, once luxurious high-rise building. Far below there is nothing but toxic smog. At the top of the tower, however, they are self-sufficient thanks to their roof garden. But when the toxic fog creeps up the tower and Nova's garden begins to die, she knows: they must leave Turris. On a life-threatening journey, Nova realizes that what she knows about the world is not true. She and Finn discover Solartopia, a futuristic metropolis where people seem to live in harmony with technology and nature. Together with the young pilot Jett, they uncover the secret of Solartopia - and unleash a battle that could destroy the last remnants of humanity.
Nova can hear plants and flowers. She knows exactly what they need to flourish and does everything to keep them alive and in a good relationship with her. But then, the toxic smog starts to come closer, and Nova has to leave the high-rise building, she calls home. And gets to know the world in a way, she had never thought she would.

The story has a very long run-up before anything actually happens. And so, I didn't get emotionally into the novel for a long time. Sure, the idea of botany and how Nova lives with plants and uses her unusual gifts is fascinating. But the plot didn't really blow me away. It's only in the last third that the author practically opens up her bag of tricks and sets off a firework display of action and great ideas that really excited me. I am only mentioning the home, where Euly lived. That scene was a blast. If the author had done this from the beginning, it would have been an absolute top rating. So, my opinion is only a bit above average, no matter what I think about the environmental component, the author brings toward the end of the story and plot.

Victoria Hume's language style is sluggish and creates a very gloomy mood, despite the protagonist's cheerful singing. The writing style is easy to read and kept simple, but unfortunately, it doesn't really captivate you.

The author plays with the reader for a long time when it comes to the character of Finn. Only in the last third of the novel does it become clear that Nova is struggling with her psyche and has literally gotten herself into something because of sheer loneliness. This was presented very well for the twelve-year-old age group and the topic was well resolved.

I feel like many other readers of this novel. The story isn't really mine, but it doesn't really leave me alone either. A lot of things don't make sense for a long time before the author literally sets off a fireworks display of action and events in the last third, and all of a sudden, all hell breaks loose. Even now, as I type these lines, I'm not sure whether I found that to be a good thing or not. But one thing I do know is that the environmental component that Victoria Hume addresses here is incredibly interesting.

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by Fischer KJB in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you.

Deutsche Rezension

Die Geschichte hat einen sehr langen Vorlauf, ehe überhaupt was passiert. Und entsprechend bin ich gefühlsmäßig lange nicht in den Roman hineingekommen. Sicher, die Idee mit der Botanik und wie Nova mit den Pflanzen lebt, ihre ungewöhnliche Gabe einsetzt, ist faszinierend. Aber wirklich umgehauen hat mich der Plot nicht. Erst im letzten Drittel öffnet die Autorin praktische ihre Trickkiste und zündet ein Feuerwerk an Action und großartigen Ideen ab, die mich richtig begeistert haben. Hätte die Autorin das von Beginn an gemacht, wäre es ein absolutes Spitzenrating geworden.

Victoria Humes Sprachstil ist träge und erzeugt eine sehr trübe Stimmung, trotz der fröhlichen Singerei der Protagonistin. Zwar ist der Schreibstil gut zu lesen und einfach gehalten, aber wirklich mitreißen tut er leider nicht.

Über lange Zeit spielt die Autorin mit dem Leser, was die Figur des Finn angeht. Erst im letzten Drittel des Romans wird klar, dass Nova hier mit ihrer Psyche zu kämpfen hat und sich buchstäblich in etwas hineingesteigert hat vor lauter Einsamkeit. Das war für die Altersgruppe der Zwölfjährigen sehr gut dargestellt und von der Thematik her gut gelöst worden.

Mir geht es wie so manch anderem Leser dieses Romans. Die Geschichte ist nicht wirklich meine, lässt mich aber auch nicht wirklich los. Vieles ergibt über lange Zeit keinen Sinn, ehe die Autorin dann im letzten Drittel buchstäblich ein Feuerwerk an Action und Ereignissen abbrennt und urplötzlich die Hölle los ist. Selbst jetzt, wo ich diese Zeilen tippe, bin ich mir nicht sicher, ob ich das als gut empfunden habe oder nicht. Aber eins weiß ich, die Umweltkomponente, die Victoria Hume hier anspricht, die ist unglaublich interessant.

Victoria Hume
Victoria Hume ©private

Victoria Hume was named one of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Undiscovered Voices of the Year in 2022. She is an ecologist and can therefore often be found in the wilds of England. Her love of nature gives her stories a special emotional depth. She lives in Brighton with her husband and son. The “Solartopia” two-parter is her debut.


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