TITLE: The Ones We’re Meant to Find
AUTHOR: Joan He
PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)
RELEASE DATE: May 4th, 2021
CATEGORY: Young Adult (YA)
GENRE(S): Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Format: eARC, provided by the publisher via Netgalley.
Content + Trigger Warnings: terminal illness, suicide, physical violence (including choking), death, drowning, death of a loved one, parental death, vomiting, large scale natural disasters and mass casualties, environmental apocalyptic themes, some gore, blood mentions
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5
DISCLAIMER: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher as part of my participation in this tour. Nevertheless, this review remains a reflection of my honest and unbiased opinions.
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 awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, and it exceeded my every expectation. I’m thrilled to have been chosen as a member of Joan’s street team, Hesina’s Imperial Court, and to be participating in this blog tour! As I mentioned in my previous post, I have always sought more diversity within the genres of sci-fi and fantasy. After Joan He’s exquisite writing absolutely enchanted me in her debut, Descendant of the Crane, I was beyond excited to learn that her next novel would be a sc-fi (one of my favorite genres)! Despite the first sentence of the summary, I could never have been prepared for how twisty and enthralling this book is. The Ones We’re Meant to Find managed to captivate me, devastate me, and fill me with awe in equal measure. (All right, admittedly, the heartbreak of it hit me especially hard. Multiple times throughout the book.) Part of my brain still feels thrown off balance and is struggling to wrap my head around all that transpired! I know I will need to revisit this book to absorb a deeper understanding of its complexities–which I will do gladly, as The Ones We’re Meant to Find has quickly joined the ranks of my favorites!
The description of The Ones We’re Meant to Find as Black Mirror with a dash of Studio Ghibli could not be more apt. All the while as I was reading, I got the sense that I was watching an episode of Black Mirror through a Studio Ghibli filter. The two may seem an oddly suited match, but He manages to create the perfect blend of futuristic, high-tech elements similar to those of the television show combined with the iconic film studio’s vibes. The contrast between the two main settings, paired with a dual narrative, helps create the vivid backdrops against which the novel plays out. Through the stunningly crafted prose, I could visualize each scene as though viewing a painting. My heart was hardly able to withstand the way this effect only emphasized the heart-wrenching scenes, but the emotional impact only further demonstrates He’s masterful handle of the written word.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is strongly character driven, focusing on the inner journeys and development of the sisters, Cee and Kasey. While there is an element of romance in this book , I was much more interested to learn about the relationship between the sisters. As the sometimes leisurely plot progresses, Cee and Kasey are heavily impacted by the challenges they face in attempting to find answers about one another despite the numerous odds. Cee’s immeasurable love for her sister and yearning to find her way is such a beautiful, powerful force in the story. On the other hand, Kasey’s determination to find answers and use her genius to do what she thinks is right provides a deep intensity through it all. Additionally, Hero and Actinium were wonderful counterpoints to Cee and Kasey respectively. In some ways, I felt that Hero and Actinium mirrored the sisters, while acting as foils in other aspects. The gloriously descriptive language she writes with makes each narrator’s feelings palpable, seeping beneath the reader’s skin from the page. With each chapter, He skillfully peels back the layers to allow readers to peer into each sister’s mind. This makes it easy to share in each of their failures and successes, reel with shock upon coming to each revelation that they did, and be pulled into the tides of their emotions along with them.
As I sit writing this review, my chest still feels filled to the brim with the heartache brought on by this book. It is a story that explores the nuances of human nature, how we are shaped by both grief and love, the impacts and echoes of our actions, and our individual power of choice in shaping ourselves, as well as the world around us. Among other themes, the questions of environmentalism, climate change, privilege, and identity resonate with a sometimes eerie familiarity. I’m absolutely blown away, my mind still drifting on the vast sea of all the beauty and tenderness, heartache and pain that spills from these pages. Additionally, I adored the nuggets of alliteration that I noticed throughout the novel! It may not have always been intentional, but as an alliteration aficionado, it was another small joy amidst a trove of gems. After reading, I also put together a playlist inspired by the book. I tried to create a mix of the book’s vibes, as well as songs that reminded me of specific moments and characters. You can find the playlist below!
If you miss the sci-fi fantasy dystopias from around the 2010s, look no further! The Ones We’re Meant to Find will satisfy that craving while adding diversity to the genre. He has not only given us an atmospheric and suspenseful story, but a future world to contemplate. I highly recommend this book, and I eagerly await having my heart shattered by Joan He in any future works she might publish!
THE ONES WE’RE MEANT TO FIND Playlist
Monday, April 26
Tuesday, April 27th
Wednesday, April 28
Thursday, April 29
Friday, April 30
Saturday, May 1
Sunday, May 2
Monday, May 3
Tuesday, May 4
Wednesday, May 5
Thursday, May 6
Friday, May 7
Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the Delaware River. Descendant of the Crane is her debut young adult fantasy. Her next novel, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, will be forthcoming from Macmillan on May 4th, 2021.
Who else is excited for the release of The Ones We’re Meant to Find? Do you have any diverse sci-fi recommendations? If you’ve read the book already, are there any songs you would include on a playlist for it? Let me know in the comments below!