First, this book is a doorstop. I am not kidding, it’s a book about a deep space mission that doesn’t even leave the ground until more than 100 pages in. It has a big cast of characters (six living teens, one dead one, four adults, plus mentions of various parents and assorted other living and dead space-related people), there are two planets (one of them being Earth), and three spaceships plus shuttles plus, oh, heck. It’s 528 pages long; there is just a lot of everything in Temi Oh’s debut novel, space saga Do You Dream of Terra-Two? Fortunately, there is also a lot of story, which keeps the reader zipping along. This book is a doorstop, but it’s also an incredibly unique and realistic space novel that will give readers a lot to think about and should not be missed ... Do You Dream of Terra-Two? is not the usual sort of space novel; it’s an investment in relationships, a look at how complicated the social aspects of interstellar space travel will likely be. Temi Oh takes big risks with this big novel, and I think she accomplishes some big things. It’s not what you expect but, in every important way, it’s what you really need to read.
Do You Dream is an oddity for a science fiction book. It is slow, contemplative, moody. It doesn't even make it into space for more than a hundred pages, and when it does, space is ... dull. Beautiful sometimes, dangerous as hell, but just exactly as boring as a whole lot of nothing must eventually become to those forced to live in it ... Oh is fantastic at writing about growing up — about the fear and the intimacy, the misery and exultation. She's particularly good about documenting it happening at the hothouse speeds bred by close-quarters and diminished options ... I didn't love the way [Oh] chose to end it. There were some narrative choices and character moments that didn't land for me as things accelerated toward the final pages. But the ride itself was more than worth it.
The mission itself is ultimately a framework for a story about how a group of people under pressure copes with isolation and responsibility for one another’s safety—and the consequences of agreeing to a journey well beyond anything humans have experienced before. The mission is complicated by the very real dangers of space travel. A relatively small cast of characters allows for some satisfying exploration of the ways people might cope with exactly what being on an interstellar journey means for their relationships and whether or not they are ready for the consequences.
Preferring to focus on the fraught interplay among the junior crew, author Oh never provides answers to the many questions her plot raises, nor offers much hope that the ensuing 22 years will lead to a happy outcome. Curiously unresolved; perhaps intentionally so but unsatisfying either way.