I’ve let this story percolate a bit in my mind before I decided to start this review. I’m pretty sure that anything I have to say about it won’t really do Semiosis justice. But, I’m going to try.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book is a wonderful example of how ideas don’t necessarily matter when it comes to writing. You could give five authors the same prompt and you’d get five different stories. I don’t think anyone could have told this story quite the way Sue Burke did.
Earth has become a war zone as humanity battles for dwindling resources. In a last ditch effort a collection of human volunteers ship off to find a new home, one they will call Pax as a promise to avoid the violent follies of life on Earth.
Life on Pax is hard, but the humans were prepared for that. What they weren’t prepared for were sentient plants.
You read that right, but by all means, go back and double check. Yep. Sentient plants.
How freaking cool is that???
Another really cool thing about this book is how Burke tells the story. It’s spread across multiple generations of the human settlers, showing their obstacles and their triumphs in weaving first person narratives that sometimes even include the plants!
And that’s what makes the book so brilliant. By including the plants, Burke gives herself the perfect outlet to explore themes like inter-species communication, what makes us human, and what it means to be part of a community.
And what happens to a peaceful community when they’re forced to fight.
I also must note that this book does a wonderful job of introducing and developing multiple characters and making the reader invested in all of them, even if they’re only ‘on screen’ for a few moments. Also, she made me root (wink, wink) for a plant. So, there’s that.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here (eh, eh??) and say that Semiosis is my favorite book I’ve read this year so far. It’s incredibly original, the prose is crisp and can lean toward the scientific without being alienating, and the characters and dynamics of the Commonwealth of Pax are fascinating.
All plant jokes aside, I’d suggest you give Semiosis a shot, and take your time with it. Let this story soak in, like water and sunshine.
Sorry this review is so short, but I really don’t want to give anything away, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you all the reasons to read it even if I tried. You’ve got to try it for yourself. I finished reading The Scorpio Races and am still working through Cold Days and Gunpowder Moon. Which means I should have two reviews for you all next week.