One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year – We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli in Joan He’s newest novel.
Today I’m so excited to be part of Hesina’s Imperial Court book tour for The Ones We’re Meant to Find, by Joan He. Make sure to check out all the other posts on the tour schedule! I was a big fan of He’s debut, Descendant of the Crane because of its unexpected twists and crafty plot (you should definitely read DotC), so I was so excited to read her newest — and I was not disappointed. Read on to see what The Ones We’re Meant to Find is about, my review, and some of my favorite quotes from the book!
Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.
STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city–Earth’s last unpolluted place–is meant to be sanctuary for those committed to planetary protections, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.
“The problem with oceans? They always seem smaller from the shore”
The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a stunning and captivating Cli-Fi read; it drags you into its currents, and you struggle to keep treading water while the story inundates you with unexpected twists and turns, dropping subtle clues about the larger story like desperate gasps of oxygen into aching lungs.
Kasey and Celia, two sisters farther apart and more closely bonded than you can imagine after reading the first few chapters, have stories that are intertwined so closely and are perpetually caught in each other’s undertow. Their relationship is the bedrock of this story, even when an ocean separates them and the danger humanity faces is rising quicker than sea levels.
This novel isn’t afraid to challenge its readers — the journey readers are taken on parallels that of the sisters’ journeys: a hunt for answers and for solutions, paralyzing questions about the future, and an ever-shifting worldview on ethics and philosophy of life as we know it.
The Ones We’re Meant to Find has a slow start, and at times I did struggle to engage with the first half. However, if you make it through the first half, the pay-off is definitely worth it. This style of slipping in information and world-building like droplets of water creates small ripples that builds into a wave — and it crashes to the shore in an epic conclusion that changes everything, and leaves readers to reel in its wake and face what’s been washed away, and what’s been revealed and left behind. A delicate balance is struck between the larger plot at play, the push and pull of characters and their relationships, and a broader — yet fathomless — conversation about climate change and the questions we must all begin to face about our privileges, what we owe each other and humanity, and our future as a planet.
“Intentions, good or bad, didn’t impact people. Consequences did.”
It’s hard to talk too much about the plot of the book without getting spoilery, so I won’t do that. All I’ll really say is that I finished this book a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it. I’m still asking questions. He’s debut novel, Descendant of the Crane, surprised me with its plot-twists and the imperfect (often just bad) choices its characters frequently made. The Ones We’re Meant to Find, though completely different and in a new genre, shared many of those qualities that made it feel like a He book — and it’s one of the reasons I loved it. Celia and Kasey aren’t infallible characters — they’re human, painfully so. There’s a deep level of honesty in He’s books, and especially on the topic of climate change, that creates room for a compelling and moving narrative. At its core, this book is about not just finding a sister and finding solutions — it’s about finding ourselves, our own truths — and part of our own truths is recognizing how we exist in our world. What role do we play in the larger picture of humanity, what role do we play in our communities — and, in turn — what are we responsible for?
“In our time, freedom is a privilege. Life is a right. We must protect life, first and foremost. Together, we pay this price.”
To conclude, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a deeply honest and challenging narrative about self-discovery, the love we have for people in our lives and for humanity, and how we all must live in order for us all to live. The Ones We’re Meant to Find doesn’t shy away from darker truths, from the failures of people. But neither is it completely without hope, and the idea remains that life is, in and of itself, something worth fighting for. In the end, there’s a reminder that individualism is incapable of saving humanity, and that it’s worth giving some things up to save what’s truly important.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Comparison Books: We Were Liars, Dry
Here are some of my Favorite Quotes from The Ones We’re Meant to Find:
It’s More Quotes! Because I loved So! Many! Quotes! From! This! Book!
“Because it was possible to love someone without fully understanding them. Possible to love parts of them, and not their whole…”This quote just makes me soft. That’s literally it.
“Everyone lived at the expense of someone else.”I could wax poetic about the politics and philosophy of this book, and what it says about class and climate change — and all that good stuff — but I’m cutting myself off for the sake of my sanity and yours. However, even this one line was like…wow….huh…oh…much to think about…
“They eek out silently, sliding over the bridge of my nose and pooling in the shell of my left ear. They’re not sad tears. Not happy tears. Just…tears. Warm as the ache between my legs. Real as the ribs beneath my skin. And for a breath, I forget. Everything. I’m just a body nestled against another’s. We’re nothing as timeless as stars in orbit. More like two grains of sand before the tide rushed in. Here, then not. Human.”Okay so the second half of this quote I already made an image for. BUT. So many feelings. Spain without the S.
“Logic ended where love began.”I don’t have anything to say about this one except for “….yeah”
“What if human nature is the last disease we have yet to eradicate?”…oof
More about the Author & Book Links
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.
You can find copies of THE ONES WE’RE MEANT TO FIND HERE: