Hi everyone! I hope you’re well! Today I’m here with a super exciting post! Right at the start of the year I was accepted into Hesina’s Imperial Court alongside some other truly wonderful human beings, much to my excitement as Joan’s debut novel is one of my all time favourites. And of course, I’ve been dying to read her latest release, The One’s We’re Meant to Find ever since it was first announced. So, when the lovely Paola organised a book tour among the members of the Court, I, of course, jumped at the opportunity! So today, I bring you my review of this fantastic novel as well as a wee moodboard (because we all know how much I adore making moodboards!). If you’d like to check out the other stops on the tour (which I highly recommend that you do!) you can do so by clicking here! All other book and author information can be found at the bottom of the post!
Title: The Key to You and Me
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Synopsis: Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving head-on by taking lessons from a girl in town.
Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.
Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?
As I mentioned, Joan’s debut novel, Descendent Of the Crane, is one of my favourite books, so of course I’ve been absolutely dying to get my hands on her second novel, The Ones We’re Meant to Find. And yes, I did squeal a little bit when the e-ARC ended up in my inbox! From reading her debut I already knew that Joan is the queen of thrilling plot twists and having the reader second guess everything they think they know, so when I heard that this was even twistier and more exciting than DOTC, I knew I was going to be in for a wild ride – and I was not disappointed!
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is an exciting sci-fi dystopian novel following sisters, Kasey and Cee. Cee has been living on an abandoned island for three years and has been fending for herself the whole time. Desperate to find the sister she has lost, she musters up plans to reach her, despite not knowing how she got to the island and having no memories of the time before. Kasey lives in an eco-city – a large, floating unpolluted city where people socialise and go about their daily lives as holographs. Though the city is meant to protect those within it, there are some shady characters living therein, and Kasey must get to the bottom of what’s going on if she’s going to get her sister back.
Okay, where to start with this wild ride of a book without spoiling anything?! The characters, perhaps? I loved getting to flip between Cee and Kasey’s points of view every other chapter or so – both of their perspectives offered different peeks into Joan’s fantastic, rich worldbuilding and their individual worldviews made for exciting insights into the tricky political terrain and familial fragmentation that she has built. I loved the contrast between Cee’s outgoing, free-spirited personality and Kasey’s quieter, intelligent mind. Their little quirks, like Cee calling people ‘love’ and Kasey’s analytical and curious brain made them stand out as true, fleshed-out individuals. Despite not being explicitly declared in the book, I wanted to mention that, as an autistic reader, I found the way that Kasey was characterised led me to reading her as autistic and, whether that was intentional or not, her character really spoke to me! There are also two important male characters in the book (though I don’t know how much I can say about them without spoiling things!), but I also thoroughly enjoyed learning more and more about them and figuring out their pasts and motives alongside Cee and Kasey!
As this is a super twisty and turny read, I don’t want to focus all that much on the plot, so I think I’ll discuss the exciting worldbuilding next! The book takes place primarily in two locations – Cee’s lonely island and Kasey’s eco-city home. Cee’s island is so wonderfully detailed that I could practically taste the salt of the sea on the tip of my tongue and feel the crunch of the sand under my feet while I was turning the pages. I loved delving into the wild and wonderful jumpers in M.M.’s wardrobe and I would absolutely die for U-Me, no questions asked! As for the eco-city, I was so intrigued by how class played into where you lived, and I was so interested at seeing the juxtaposition of the clean, quiet upper levels compared to the cramped, busy, and at times seedy, lower levels. The whole idea of holo-ing to different places and trying to minimise your carbon footprint throughout your life in the city was such an interesting and unique idea, and I’d love to learn more about the whole set up!
Something I found while reading the book was that at times, I felt like I wasn’t intelligent enough to fully grasp the sheer magnitude of this book on my first reading, and I’m already planning a re-read in the near future! Joan manages to encompass so many important discussions in this book, such as class, freedoms vs. responsibility, AI and the ethics surrounding them, as well as a myriad of topics surrounding climate change, such as the greenwashing of consumerism and the power imbalance between the global North and the global South (these in themselves are horrible terms, though I’ve yet to come across better ones so please excuse my usage of these until I can find them). Just reflecting on this book and all the tiny seeds and clues that Joan plants throughout the narrative, I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of work that went into creating this book – it’s honestly mindblowing!
Even while writing this review, I’m finding myself anxious to turn the pages of Kasey and Cee’s story again, and I’m already foisting my copy of the book onto my non-reader girlfriend so that she can truly bask in its glory, too! Joan has really solidified her spot as one of my favourite authors with this book, and I’m excited (and terrified!) to see what she’s going to bring out next!
Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the Delaware River. Descendant of the Crane is her debut young adult fantasy. Her next novel, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, will be forthcoming from Macmillan on May 4th, 2021.