Book review: Luna – New Moon

When you have a reading list with over 200 books on it, some are going to get lost on it. It’s inevitable, especially when I’m adding 20-30 new titles every year. Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald is a great case in point.

I added the book when I saw it on Gizmodo’s list of The Very Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Of 2015. Yes, that’s right 2015. The list was posted on December 21, 2015. And yes, you are correct, I’m writing this post on July 14, 2021.

It’s not that I didn’t want to read Luna. It’s just that other books kept getting in the way. I finally prioritized the book by putting in on my 2020 reading list. When I didn’t get to it last year, I moved it higher on my 2021 reading list.

So after nearly 6 years, I finally read it, which begs the question, was it worth the wait?

Luna is a story about the colonization of the moon and the families that control it. Mining and industrial applications are the key reasons the moon has been colonized. The resources that are mined and products that are produced are mostly sent back to Earth. In fact, those on Earth have become dependent on these items. Those in control of these industries on the moon wield a lot of power, and there are five families that each control an industry. The plot of Luna revolves around one of these powerful families, the Corta family, and the interactions and dynamics both within the family and with the other powerful clans.

I found Luna to be an ambitious undertaking by McDonald. It is a very complex story with lots of characters, a lot more than what I’m used to. Because of the complexity, McDonald spends a lot of time developing the characters and their relationships with each other, which makes the book read more like a space opera than an action book. Since I favor action over character development, Luna was a tough read for me in spots.

When there is action, which is few and far between, it’s engaging. I wish McDonald would have focused more on the action side of things, but I understand the difficulty given the number of characters in the book. It would have gotten really confusing if McDonald had failed to develop the characters before throwing them into engaging action scenes.

Bottom line, Luna is a very detailed, complex story which serves as lead-in to the other two books in the Luna trilogy. It reminds me a lot of other space opera series, such as The Expanse series by S.A. Corey. If you’re into this sort of book series, then Luna is going to be right in your wheelhouse. For that reason alone, I can see why it made Gizmodo’s best of 2015 list. If, on the other hand, you’re into more action-oriented books that build the characters as the story unfolds and that focus more on the technology, then it’s one I would suggest passing on.

Since I fall into that latter camp of action-oriented books, Luna was a tough read for me. Again, the writing is solid, the characters are deep and well-developed, and the story is complex. It’s just not my thing. So while I wasn’t disappointed I read the book, I didn’t find it worth the wait.

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