The Mission (A New Earth Novella) by MJ McGriff (book review).

From what I have been able to glean, ‘The Mission’ is a prequel to the two ‘New Earth’ novels, ‘The Fall’ and ‘The Takeover’, that have already been published which I have yet to read. The events in ‘The Mission’ would appear to occur much earlier to the events of the first book in the series, ‘The Fall’, but is set on the same planet called New Earth. The colonists have been on the planet for some time but our central character, 22 year-old India Wilson, can still remember life on the colony ship Resurgence.

The fledgling colony is comprised of three sectors. Sector A is the main administrative area while Sector B is a few hours travel to the south and Sector C is on the other side of a river. I’m not sure why they are called sectors and not encampments, perhaps ‘The Hunger Games’ is having an influence here? Travel outside of the sectors must be authorised and appears to be severely limited to explorer missions. In another nod towards ‘The Hunger Games’, Sectors B and C have different functions to Sector A’s government and security role.

I should mention that the sectors are enclosed by a wall. So, it’s not as if they could easily go for a hike in the woods. This is a bugbear of India as she’s lived in Sector A for seven years and has worked up to be a Security Officer but has yet to set foot outside of the sector. Her best friend, Flo, is an explorer who has travelled outside of the sector searching for Oranium crystals. These are used as a power supply to augment their solar panels.

Flo has managed to get India assigned as the security officer to a mission to search for more Oranium crystals. Of course, Security Chief Officer Trenton Wilson, being her overbearing and overprotective father, objects to the mission and wants to reassign another officer. It’s clearly a misuse of his position but he seems more than happy to do this. It’s not the first time he’s done this either.

After a lot of pressure from India, her father relents but imposes some conditions allowing India joins the small explorer party as they leave Sector A. Seeing New Earth up close and personal is a completely and almost overwhelming experience for India. She only has the one day to enjoy the experience though as on the second day things very quickly go pear-shaped. The party runs into a band of rebels and are taken prisoner. The rebels have left the jurisdiction of the sectors to set up their own encampment

India, along with the other captives, are taken to the rebel’s new encampment which under the original settlement laws is illegal. The following day they are treated to a tour of the illegal settlement and can’t help but notice how much happier and well fed the people are. Unfortunately, given the extremely strict interpretation of the sector colony laws by the Sector President and Security Chief Officer Trenton Wilson, conflict between the rebels and the Sector Security forces seems to be inevitable, despite the peaceful overtures from the rebels leader, Oliver.

India Wilson is caught squarely in the middle of the opposing forces and faces several conflicts of interest and emotion. She has experience of both sides but is unable to influence the men in charge to bring about a peaceful settlement. I mention this because if there’s one thing that sticks out in this story is that all the men, with two exceptions, are portrayed as idiots. That includes her father with his blatant abuse of power and the president who won’t listen to her and seems hell bent on wiping the rebels out. Killing the rebels would seriously impact on the colony’s chances of surviving.

There are two exceptions to the general population of male idiots and that’s an elderly gentleman explorer from Sector A and the rebel leader Oliver. The explorer is only a bit part and Oliver’s character is not really developed beyond being a well-meaning rebel leader. The ending is a bit confusing when you try to work out why India ends up feeling as she does about the rebels.

I got the feeling the intended audience for this book is a female young adult one. This might explain why the majority of the male characters are either idiots or so narrow-minded it makes them stupid. Unfortunately, I’m reading it from a male viewpoint, so it made the read a bit tedious for me. I’m still confused about India’s reasoning at the end of the story given what she has been through and what she knows about the rebels, the President and her father.

I’m not sure if ‘The Mission’ is a good introduction to the ‘New Earth’ series even if it is free to download. It certainly had some good ideas but the lack of depth to the characters and the anti-male bias put me off.

Andy Whitaker

March 2018

(pub: MJ McGriff, 2016. 115 page ebook. Price: FREE!)

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