Snakes on Plane Spaceship
The 500 passengers are selected by a combination of fitness exams, job aptitude tests, and then, finally, a ballot. Onboard are botanists, engineers, medics, and all kinds of people necessary for society to function properly. Together, they seek to create Mars’s first ever viable community.
Amongst these spacefarers is Jane Parker, a botanist with a surprisingly diverse skill set (well, she is the protagonist after all) and a strong moral constitution.
Pitted against Jane, and the journey to Mars, is the ‘anti-departure movement’, reminiscent of the modern-day anti-vaxxer. Working tirelessly, they plot against the project to leave Earth.
It’s an effective way to build tension but disappointingly, the movement is never explored in any great depth. This is somewhat reflective of the novel itself – characters, though likeable, lack complexity. And ideas, though potentially exciting, fully underdeveloped.
For example, there are several moments that suggest the antagonist is studying the crew in order to sow discord and use their fears against them. But this never really gets going.