If this was later in the year, or closer to my CBR goal, I probably wouldn’t bother to review it. It’s fine. The writing is fine. There are too many characters, but most of them are fine. The story leaves some things unexplained, but overall it’s fine. The “just fine” reviews are the hardest to write!
A group of people calling themselves Pacifists leave a struggling Earth to go settle a new planet. The first half of the book jumps generations each chapter: the original settlers, the first generation of children, the discovery of an abandoned alien city. It’s an interesting way to cover a lot of ground, but it doesn’t give you much time to get attached to anyone, since you only spend one chapter with each main character before moving on to their descendants. The most interesting thing is watching the humans learn about their new planet’s plant life, which is intelligent. They learn which plants are nice and which are trying to kill them, and then future generations actually learn to communicate with the rainbow bamboo, which is the most intelligent. The bamboo claims the name Stevland, and slowly becomes essential to their survival (growing special fruits with missing nutrients, etc.) and then a valued member of the community.
There are squabbles amongst factions in the community, battles with other creatures that inhabit the planet, and eventually a meeting with the Glassmakers, the beings who built the city the Pacifists have moved into. There was a chapter earlier in the book where I thought Stevland the bamboo was going to be the villain of the story, but then he learns the value of communication and mutualism and stops thinking of humans as his pets.
It all almost feels like it’s skimming the surface of a deeper story, but it’s a fairly light, quick read. If you like first contact stories that don’t expect too much from their characters or readers, this might be for you! This one was for my library sci-fi book club, and I would bet good money that one particular book club member is going to love it, so maybe it just wasn’t for me.