Announcement: I have now committed to just copying and pasting summaries onto my reviews. I know. I have fallen from grace. It’s hard for me to write summaries now (writing good ones that is, without having spoilers for the rest of you). So! if it makes you feel any better there’s pumpkin pie with ice cream, with drinks of your choice in the back. Don’t forget to pet the kitty.
For nine years, the alien Tarsalans have orbited Earth, negotiating immigration rights. When negotiations fail, they surround Earth with the phytosphere, which blocks the sun’s light. As Earth darkens and cools, plant life dies, and worldwide panic reigns. Riots, looting, blackouts, and the breakdown of once trustworthy systems—firefighting, police, hospitals, media—characterize the new Earth. The Tarsalans consider the phytosphere a teaching tool; Earth considers it war. Scientist Gerry Thorndike spearheads a ragtag group from the colonized moon to investigate the phytosphere. His brother Neil, scientific advisor to the U.S. president and Gerry’s rival, leads an effort to destroy it. Meanwhile, Gerry’s wife, Glenda, and their children struggle to survive in worsening conditions, in which other people are the greatest threat. (Amazon.ca website product description).
These kinds of books never cease to amaze me. Maybe because I’m into bleak books and the struggle to survival is something I look to enjoy for an entertaining read. Although, sometimes I get these types of books and read them so that I can learn to appreciate what’s around me more and to not take things for granted all the time (in other words, so I can learn how to count my blessings once in a while). You certainly feel this way when you read through Phytosphere. Naturally of course, this is something that’s virtually impossible to picture happening to us (although, you’ll never know!). Yet the lessons are still noted and although not fully learned, you do feel as if you need to appreciate something, or someone to feel good after reading this book.
It’s pretty bleak. Especially with Glenda and her kids. The moments where she confronts the ‘policemen’ are especially chilling and very realistic. I cannot quite picture how I would deal with this situation myself, but Glenda proves to be strong and manages to keep it together with her children. It’s admirable and although the kids play cliched roles, the story arc involving them and Glenda provides a good read. You can also feel the frustration and helplessness of Gerry as he’s millions of miles away (literally) and his much more ‘smarter’ and more successful brother undermines Gerry’s ideas, refuses to listen to him and persuades others to ignore them. It’s a little obvious to the reader what might befall Neil (Gerry’s brother) in the end, but you can’t help but feel that certain satisfaction when it does happen.
There are quite a number of thrilling action moments, which makes the reading of this book go faster and more exciting. I would have to say, although the majority of the plot is very good and I had fun reading it, it just sounds too cliche and could make for a cheesy sci fi flick shown on television. Also, although there was a good description on the Tarsalans and their behavior I wanted to know more about them. There wasn’t much information except they wanted access to Earth and have been negotiating with regards to immigration. There’s a bit of information given here and there throughout the novel but it still doesn’t feel like a complete explanation. Unless there’s a book that precedes the events before Phytosphere (which I am not aware of, and if there is one, please let me know) it feels as if there’s information lacking and you’re left with a tidbit of information on the aliens when there should have been more offered to round out the story a bit more.
A cliche storyline, with its thrilling moments, and its bleak moments. A few holes in the plot, however with all of this, the book is still worth a read. Do give this a try. It’s worth it, just for an entertaining read.
I give it an 8 out of 10.