Book Review: Terra by Gretchen Powell

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Terrestrials: Book I
by Gretchen Powell
Hopewell Media
Paperback and Ebook
286 Pages

Chapters 1 & 2 are available to read online:


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Terrestrials: Book I
Gretchen Powell
Hopewell Media, November 2012
ISBN 978-0-9884689-0-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

A broken and desolate Earth. A young girl struggling to survive. A lost boy with a powerful secret.

A discovery that will change everything.

In the distant wake of a plague that has decimated the Earth’s population, humanity is split in two: The rich and powerful live in skycities that float overhead, while those who remain on the ground have gathered in settlements strewn across a dying planet. Eighteen-year-old Terra Rhodon is a terrestrial–a denizen of the barren groundworld–who makes her living as a scav. Long abandoned by her father, her caregivers gone, Terra supports herself and her younger brother, Mica, by scouring the earth for discarded scraps and metals to recycle for profit. One day, while on a routine scavenging run, she discovers something that shocks her home settlement of Genesis X-16. When the value of her discovery is revealed, Terra’s world is turned upside down.

Terra suddenly finds herself asking questions no one will answer. Her search for the truth leads her to Adam–a beguiling skydweller unlike any she has ever met. But Adam has secrets and a quest of his own. With him by her side, the world Terra thought she knew begins to unravel. Soon her discoveries unearth a terrifying conspiracy that has the potential to shatter everything–a revelation that will test the bonds of loyalty, family, and love.


I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I’ve enjoyed almost everything to an extent, some quite a lot, but it’s been a while since a book has wowed me, has made me sit up and take notice and caused me to think “this has to go on my list of Favorite Books of 2013”. Finally, I’ve found one and I have Gretchen Powell to thank for it.

Terra, Adam and Mica are three characters that will stick in my mind for a long time and that’s largely because I became invested in all three. Ms. Powell made me feel as though I’ve watched these kids grow up and become a force to be reckoned with. Terra is one of the most appealing young women characters I’ve come across; she’s determined, caring, very brave and she wants nothing more than to do what’s right for her little brother but she’s no goody two shoes. Adam is, if anything, a mite too good to be true but it’s kind of refreshing to have a love interest who’s really an equal with the girl in many ways. Then there’s Mica, such a typical 13-year-old, snark and all, and we get to see him mature within a few months into a 14-year-old who’s still snarky but beginning to show us the man he’ll eventually become.

And Prime Morrigan Whitlock? My goodness, this is a villain you love to hate and I can’t wait to find out what evil she’ll be up to next along with the rest of her ilk.

Terra’s world is fascinating with its sharp divide between the terrestrials and the skydwellers and the author has constructed the groundworld with an eye to detail that brings it into sharp focus for the reader. I went along with Terra and Adam during her stint as tour guide around the city and, in fact, that was a very clever way for the author to let us see and experience this world rather than having Terra tell Adam, and the reader, about the city. One of the elements that I’m interested to know more about is the rain—I want to know how it became so acidic and how Adam’s filter works and I hope to find out more about that in the future.

Hats off to Ms. Powell for her choice of Terra’s name. After all, what better name can there be to represent what Earth of the very distant future could be like? That future is definitely in peril and the ending of Terra, while not precisely a cliffhanger, certainly left me eager for more. I really do hope the second book will be coming soon.

One last note—from a former naysayer who has learned to winnow the gems from the dreck, Terra is a self-published novel that is head and shoulders above much of the fiction available today from any source and it will definitely be on my list of favorite books of 2013.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2013.


About the Author

Gretchen PowellHalf-Chinese and the daughter of a US diplomat, Gretchen Powell spent her childhood growing up in far-off places. She made it all the way to her mid-twenties whilst maintaining her deep-seated love for young adult novels, so she decided to write one of her own.

Her creative process involves copious amounts of Sour Patch Kids and sleeping fitfully. Her many interests include anything with polka dots, Harry Potter, and playing the ukulele.

When she isn’t crafting devastated futuristic worlds and fiery heroines, Gretchen also writes a healthy living blog, entitled “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!”

She lives in Northern Virginia with her two adorable miniature schnauzers. They wear many sweaters.



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