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Reviewed by Chinazo Anozie for Readers' Favorite
Vermilion Sunrise is a YA sci-fi novel by Lydia P. Brownlow. Seventeen-year-old Leigh Crawford wakes up to find that she’s no longer on Earth. Along with other teenagers, all under twenty, she has traveled light years to another planet called Marjol. The video information on the spaceship transporting them explains that they had volunteered to colonize Marjol and were the third group to land. They had been traveling in cryosleep, which preserved them so that they hardly aged but erased their most recent memories, including that of volunteering. Leigh’s first reaction is disbelief, and she’s determined to return home until she realizes it took almost 22 Earth years to make the trip and probably the same to go back—if she even can. She realizes that Marjol is her new home, and she’ll likely never see Earth or her family again. Determined to embrace her new reality, she’s eager to meet the other teenagers. As they spend more time on the planet, she and the others realize they may not be alone and that some things they’ve been told are lies.
Vermilion Sunrise is a fantastic book, like a hybrid of The 100 and Maze Runner. Brownlow’s detailed plot and worldbuilding are commendable. Her description of Marjol, with its three moons and orange sun, was so vivid that I had no trouble visualizing it. I also loved how each character had their traits; this made them memorable even though there were many. For example, I could always count on Olu as the calm voice of reason, especially when tensions heightened. Michele had her Maori adages, and Noah, the easygoing Aussie, loved surfing. The diverse cast was all very relatable and resilient, doing their best on an alien planet with the little they had. I connected so much with them that I always got anxious about their safety, especially when they went on expeditions or sustained injuries. A slow burner, Vermilion Sunrise is an excellent introduction to the rest of the series as it answers many questions as the story goes on but leaves you eager for more by the end.