Joanna has been waiting her whole life to travel as a pilot with her family to colonize another planet after Earth has steadily broken down.
But, when complications arrive and their ship The Pioneer is in an accident, killing Joanna’s brother, she is changed for their journey to a new world. She is lost without being able to pilot.
As new secrets arise about the planet The Pioneer‘s crew has landed on, Joanna discovers secrets about their planet and tenuous relationships that may not hold, unless the crew does something about it–fast.
I’ve been excited about The Pioneer ever since my first #Novel19s chat last year, and it sounded amazing and right up my alley.
And it totally was the type of book I would (and did) enjoy reading.
If you, like me, love Olivia A. Cole’s A Conspiracy of Stars (one of my favorites and only YA book I’ve read focusing on interplanetary colonialism), you’ll definitely like The Pioneer if you’re looking for something similar.
I love sci-fi (it’s my favorite genre) and The Pioneer did not fail to remind me why I enjoy this genre so much! Fast paced action combined with spicy relationships make sci-fi my favorite genre, and The Pioneer brought all the sci-fi and other planets, as well as more complex relationships than I was expecting.
One of my favorite parts about The Pioneer was how it examined grief under high-pressure situations. I was not expecting for a theme to be incorporated into the novel, but it made it a lot more complex and relatable and more interesting than I hoped for.
Joanna has to deal with the loss of her brother early on in the book (this isn’t a spoiler, this is like chapters 1 & 2) and it really sets the stage for Joanna’s emotional state as she progresses through the book.
Now Joanna has more challenges to face–repairing relationships that fell into disarray as she grieved, from friendships to family to almost siblings. All while dealing with a new planet.
This was ultimately my favorite part: getting to read a book where the character was set up to struggle through those dynamics and really work to repair her relationships.
And I think Tyler did a good job of mostly wrapping things up, although that’s obviously harder to do when you have an actual plot going on too, so sometimes the closures (for this book at least) felt a bit underwhelming as just one conversation.
In terms of the actual plot, it was good–pretry standard, and I frankly wish more suspense was tied in. Although I got vibes that things were good/bad, I kind of wished the world building was more immersive because I didn’t feel absorbed in it.
The planet sounds awesome and amazing, but I was a little disappointed that I didn’t feel plunged into another world.
But I did think Tyler did a good job with the colonialism, although that’s also something I wished we got a teensy bit more examination in.
What ultimately made me give this a 3.5 instead of something higher, besides the reasons I mentioned already, was the romance.
I mean, sure? I guess it was okay? I just didn’t think we needed that. It didn’t add anything to the story. I felt no chemistry and didn’t click with it. I just think that The Pioneer is an example of a book that would have benefited from the time spent on the romance being put elsewhere, like . . .
Adding more depth in the aforementioned places, to give the book that extra oomph that would have shot it into 4/5 range, for me.
Overall, The Pioneer was a good, solid debut (with a cliffhanger ending 💀) that used a premise I was very interested in and executed it in a unique way through its incorporation of grief.
I would recommend to people who either like A Conspiracy of Stars or are excited by the premise and enjoy space fiction!
Thank you so much to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!