Book Review: Orphan Planet (2023)

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Orphan Planet by Rex Burke

Dervla: most likely to discover aliens, if there are any out there.
Karlan: most likely to eat an alien.
Manisha: most likely to be eaten by an alien.
Poole: most likely to arm-wrestle an alien, no question.
Bryson: most likely to spot an alien and start running.
Dana: most likely to be an actual alien.

Oh my gosh this book is just very fun. It reminds me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Red Dwarf meets Avenue 5. We follow our listless, hapless and very confused protagonist, Jordan, after he’s brought out of cryosleep seventeen years or so after signing up for a mission to New Earth, funded by billionaires desperate to get off Earth as climate change wreaked havoc on Earth. As Earth is still liveable, just plagued by storms and floods, the list of volunteers amounts of everyone who was willing to trade the guarantee of a life on Earth for a possible life out in space. Jordan, who’s disenchanted with his life and has no one left after his parents died and his girlfriend broke up with him, signs up to go.

Ostensibly, he’s going to be the historian on New Earth once they arrive. But he’s been woken up early by the crew to do something none of them want to do – and something he certainly never intended on doing – and that is raise the crew’s children. Six children who were conceived on accident when the crew failed to work out birth control on board during the first year in space. And none of the parents want to take care of any of the children – the AI on board posits that something may have dampened their emotions. But what it amounts to is there are six children and, after the teacher who was woken up before Jordan to raise them is now gone, Jordan’s next up.

Reeves was a great character. Bloody hilarious. He’s the AI who runs the ship and steers/navigates, and who’s picked up sarcasm during the last seventeen years. His primary function is to keep everyone safe and alive, and though he snarks and sasses at every turn, he does his job perfectly. His banter with Jordan and the kids had me giggling out loud.

I thought Sam was a great character, even if we only meet her through recordings. She really was such a kind heart.

I will say, the crew’s disinterest in the children was really upsetting. Like, it’s kind of explained, and obviously there are people who truly just don’t want to be parents, but the fact that there were, like, two hundred crew members and the only ones who gave a shit about the kids were Juno and Gerald made me feel so awful for them. Like, fair play to Sam and Reeves for ensuring that those children grew up capable of love and kindness, because they certainly weren’t shown any by their biological parents. Bless Sam, Jordan, Juno, Gerald and Reeves for giving them something like parental support/mentoring.

I honestly loved Jordan and the kids, all six of them. Not one of the kids was unlikeable or annoying. They were all just utterly endearing. The whole book is basically one big found family trope and I adored every single page of them bonding, bantering and bickering.

This book is honestly funny (so funny) and fairly wholesome and uplifting. It’s a laugh-out-loud romp in outer space as poor Jordan tries to figure out how to bond with the teenagers who have never had anyone other than Reeves, the AI, and Sam, their previous teacher, show even the remotest bit of love for them. And then, just as Jordan is starting to figure things out, unforeseen events force him to really step up in the Dad Mode role. (I loved how he came to view them as his kids. Truly such a good egg our Jordan.)

I completely, wholeheartedly recommend this gem of a book and I can’t wait to read the next one and see where the mysteries and adventures take Jordan and the kids.

Thank you to the author for providing a paperback edition for review.

Check out my master list of book reviews here, and my indie book reviews with the genres labelled here.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Orphan Planet (2023)

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderfully generous review – have to keep pinching myself when I realise that you’re talking about MY book! Delighted that you enjoyed it so much – and book 2 is on its way!

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