I received this book from Orbit through netgalley for my honest opinion. Goldilocks comes out on May 5th!
Laura Lam’s Goldilocks follows a scientific crew of five women on their mission to a recently discovered planet in the goldilocks zone. They are to make sure that the planet it livable and help begin the work of colonizing the planet. Except, with increasing restrictions on women in the workplace, these five women find themselves pushed out of the jobs they were promised. So, they steal the spaceship and take off to do what they are meant to.
Through a series of flashbacks, and through the dialogue and thoughts of the women on board, Lam builds a detailed world where women’s roles in society have regressed. Lam builds on what I would call Trump-era politics, imagining a future where women’s rights are seemingly revoked: women are taken out of field positions, and pushed back into desk duty; they are passed over for jobs and denied promotions; and they are encouraged to get pregnant and take a baby bonus, an action that bars them from returning to work for five years.
On top of it all, humanity has thirty years or less left on earth. Global warming has gotten worse, no one has truly gotten a handle on industry, and there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of climate change orphans. Pollution is so bad that everyone must wear filter masks when outside.
I could see a version of the world like this, if the current political climate continued unchecked. I like to believe that we wouldn’t let things play out to this degree, at least with regards to the erosion of women’s rights, but I could easily visualize the reality that this book draws from.
Despite the high stakes on earth, and the consequences one would expect to see from stealing a spaceship (spoiler: there are no consequences beyond vague threats), this book was so incredibly slow. I kept checking my location in my e-book wondering when it was going to become a sci-fi thriller like I had been promised. At 50% of the way through, I wondered if it would ever happen.
Goldilocks felt more like an interpersonal drama than a thriller for the majority of the story. Told through scenes set onboard the ship and through flashbacks, Lam put a lot of effort into developing the relationship (and it’s tensions) between the protagonist, Naomi, and her previous legal guardian, Valerie. And I just…never really cared about any of it. The constant flashbacks were disrupting and made the beginning of the book stretch on endlessly.
I feel like the writing style also contributed to the sense of the book having a very slow pace. There was a significant amount of telling rather than showing.
When I finally reached the part of the story I would consider a sci-fi thriller, I was disappointed with how quickly the problem was resolved. Within the space of a few chapters the women went from being divided, to working together to take down the one member of their crew whose anger at the world and hunger for power combined to create a potentially world-ending cataclysm. It doesn’t take them long after that to stop her plan.
This might be the book for someone, but it was not the book for me. To me, Goldilocks did not deliver as the sci-fi thriller I was looking forward to reading. The stakes, while high, were not always realistic and problems were overcome too easily.
I would recommend this book to someone who likes to read books with interpersonal drama, and who enjoys reading books that examine the ways our current culture could evolve if we do not change.