Ghost Planet by Sharon Fisher
Author: Sharon Fisher
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Source: e-arc from publisher on Netgalley
Book Description from Goodreads:
Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she'd struggle with the requirement to shun these "ghosts." She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves.
Earth has become a nearly unlivable wasteland, polluted and dying. So in a stroke of luck explorers from Earth find a planet that has everything they could ever want - lush green landscapes, fresh air and water; but there's a caveat. In their rush to colonize the planet, an alien life form suddenly begins to appear....in the form of a dead loved one, each attached to a specific colonist. If you saw a someone who made a deep impression on you that was supposed to be dead, how would you react? Embracing them with loving arms or with hostility and fear; could you abide by the Ghost Protocol?
I love the mirror imagery of the cover, with a ghostly Elizabeth and a determined Murphy over the backdrop of a forest hidden in the dark - making it difficult to determine its state.
The story begins innocuously enough, Elizabeth a psychology student arriving for her residency on Ardagh 1 and is quickly greeted by her new supervisor Grayson Murphy. These two quickly hit it off, and even discover that they had briefly met on Earth years earlier. But then it becomes apparent that something's off, especially when Elizabeth starts tripping the Ghost sensors and failing every imaginable Ghost test.
I do wish that the synopsis would have left out how she died. It is important to know that she dies, it just took away from the shock of the reveal when we're already told. Nonetheless, I love how this book starts! There's a sharp contrast in how Elizabeth is treated before and after. In the beginning she's like any other guest, Murphy provides food and excellent (and flirty) conversation. But as soon as they discover the truth; that she's a ghost and attached to none other than the creator of the Ghost Protocol - which states that there is to be absolutely no contact between ghost and human in order to keep the ghosts complacent and the humans sane enough to continue their jobs.
The ghosts were interesting entities. They had physical form, and everyone could seem them. But the way that Ghost Protocol works has made them into zombie like shells of their former selves and they drift about very much like what you'd think a ghost would be like - screaming for attention but never getting a reaction.
I loved the character of Elizabeth! She's extremely intelligent, strong willed and confident. She readily adapts to her situation, and my favorite parts were how she found an endless amount of loopholes in the Ghost Protocol to get what she needed, I couldn't help but smile at her ingenuity. She's constantly curious and asks a million questions; which is a refreshing change from characters that just go along with it until something is revealed. Elizabeth actively searches for the answers and has a healthy sense of skepticism when presented with something that seems too good to be true. Fisher crafted a main character that was complex and had a history. Over the course of the story her past clashes with her present as it goes tumbling into her future, and the reader gets to see how she grows and evolves.
Murphy - head of Psychology on Ardagh 1 and creator of the Ghost Protocol think's he's met the girl of his dreams, but things couldn't just stay that simple. She's dead, and an alien and completely hands off now. There's so much internal struggle with Murphy, especially since Elizabeth made such an impression on him in the first few moments of the book. My only complaint would be that Murphy is Irish, and I never really got an impression of an Irish lilt when he was speaking; he'd drop a "love" at the end of sentences but to me that immediately made me think of a British accent.
Elizabeth and Murphy's romance is forbidden, and difficult to describe. One thing for sure is that it isn't instant love. There are feelings there, and there's a mix of trust, conversations and hardships in conjunction with their alien bond that creates a solid relationship. By the end though, I was completely rooting for these two to work out because they're so adorable together.
Fisher takes elements from Biology and Psychology and manages to blend them into this plot with aliens and romance perfectly. There are some terms (especially biology ones) that are used; but fear not, they're expertly explained. Fisher has this amazing knack for showing the reader each possible perspective, and it definitely made me question the ethical implications of what they're doing on this planet. The landscape of this story was constantly changing and evolving as things were revealed. It kept an excellent pace and I never found myself guessing what would happen next - not that I could.
Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
This story is like a blend of Jame's Cameron's Avatar and Stephenie Meyer's The Host. Fans of either one will LOVE Ghost Planet. For me it was a thoroughly enjoyable read! The ending seemingly ties everything up, and leaves a spark of hope; but I still have burning questions as to what happens to these characters after the book ends!