Firstly, a huge thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 05/07/2022
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi | Eco Thriller | Romance | LGBTQIA+
Lumi is an Earth-born healer whose Mars-born spouse Sol disappears unexpectedly on a work trip. As Lumi begins her quest to find Sol, she delves gradually deeper into Sol’s secrets – and her own.GoodReads
While recalling her own path to becoming a healer under the guidance of her mysterious teacher Vivian, she discovers an underground environmental group called Stoneturners, which may have something to do with Sol’s disappearance. Lumi’s search takes her from the wealthy colonies of Mars to Earth that has been left a shadow of its former self due to vast environmental destruction. Gradually, she begins to understand that Sol’s fate may have been connected to her own for much longer than she thought.
Part space-age epistolary, part eco-thriller, The Moonday Letters is also a love story between two individuals from very different worlds.
I have no idea where to begin with this review. It’s so difficult to capture the magic of this novel that I won’t be able to do it justice. The Moonday Letters is certainly a unique read, one that is more of an experience as you see life through Lumi’s letters which is much different from the typical sci-fi / eco novel.
Although this novel tackles much larger ideas of the future of Earth and space travel, particularly the impact on the environment and the socio-political conflict that comes from it, the way it is told through Lumi’s writings to her spouse, Sol, it all feels very intimate and on a smaller scale. For me, there is always something about the epistolary narrative structure that feels so much more personal and authentic compared to just using a first person perspective. Through the entries, as well as snippets of news articles and messages, Itäranta does a fantastic job of world building and making it all feel alie and rich with history; but it was done in a way where I never felt overwhelmed with the amount of information or confused as there was too little explanation.
I also loved the way we learn about the other characters, and build our own relationships and opinions, based on how Lumi presents them. Whilst there are a lot of moments where the diary entries are written in a typical novel style, this is all still Lumi’s recount of the conversations so they do have a different impact. Additionally, through the presentation of these different characters we get to see all the ways that society is different here. Through Lumi’s compassionate defence of Sol’s identity and gentle reminders of their pronouns where needed; and the casual mention of her friend’s spouses was a great way to introduce and embed diversity into this society.
As amazing as the characters and the world are, I think that my favourite aspect of the novel was Itäranta’s wonderfully lyrical writing style. The entire novel was such a delight to read with so many impactful lines. I completed adored how The Moonday Letters beautifully combined science and myth. On the surface, it may be difficult to imagine the two together, and yet, Itäranta weaves the spiritual side of the future and healing with the stark science of the world brilliantly. Sometimes in sci-fi even the humans can feel very alien and far removed from the idea we have of humanity; however, through the nostalgic references to Earth in the past as well as the exploration of myth and the spiritual side of people, the world really allows for humanity to stay familiar and almost relatable.
Overall, I loved this novel. I have purposefully left out the plot in my review because there are so many different elements that are all closely intertwined that it just needs to be experienced. Itäranta’s vision of the future is captivating as well as concerning. Whilst the writing is beautiful and the love Lumi has for Sol continuously propels the story forward, there are plenty of aspects to this society and threats which feel very real, even for our present-day planet. This novel wonderfully bridges the gap between sci-fi and fantasy (and also romance) that fans of any of the genres will be able to enjoy.