Vermilion Sunrise

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
356 Pages
Reviewed on 08/16/2023
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Author Biography

Lydia P. Brownlow is a science fiction writer who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She is a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law. Though a lawyer by training, Lydia has often found herself in the classroom instead of the courtroom. She’s taught high school, junior high, college, and law school. Teaching science fiction to her high school students inspired Lydia to write Vermilion Sunrise.

    Book Review

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.

Alma Boucher

Vermilion Sunrise by Lydia P. Brownlow describes how Leigh, age seventeen, awakened from cryosleep and learned that she was a member of the first human colony outside of our solar system. The cryosleep causes partial amnesia and kills anyone over twenty. Therefore, only teenagers were sent, and they arrived with no memory of volunteering to be shipped off to a new solar system. They landed on a planet covered in water, but their technology did not function. While they struggled to survive, they found pieces of metal washed ashore that looked as if they were from a shuttle. Leigh and a small group of adventurers set out across the open ocean in search of answers with just a flimsy raft and scant provisions. But Leigh, who has been lying to everyone since she arrived, may find the truth to be more than she bargained for.

Vermilion Sunrise by Lydia P. Brownlow is compelling and riveting. I was completely engaged from the beginning of the book and appreciated the compassion and understanding of the teenagers. I was part of the world-building and the mysteries associated with their struggle for survival. The characters were brilliant, and they worked together well in challenging circumstances. I learned about each of them in turn. Even though the characters were plagued by tragedy, a lack of technology, insufficient medical supplies, and harsh weather, the thread of love and hope never broke. The story is brilliantly written, and teenage anxiety, compassion, and love were handled with skill.

Scott Cahan

Vermilion Sunrise by Lydia P. Brownlow is a young adult science fiction story about a large group of teenagers from Earth who have been placed on a faraway planet to colonize it. The teens are on a small island surrounded by an endless ocean. There is much mystery as to why each was chosen for the mission. When new colonist Leigh arrives, she begins asking questions the others have ignored. Then, strange objects start washing up on shore, suggesting they may not be alone on the planet. Without contact from those who sent them to live there, the teens are forced to make difficult decisions. Should they venture off the island to find answers or stay put and wait for some sign that Earth hasn’t abandoned them?

Vermilion Sunrise features a large cast of diverse characters. Author Lydia P. Brownlow is a natural at exploring how teenage boys and girls relate to each other and their unusual situations. She’s given each character specific personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses. She’s also done a great job of creating a world full of mystery and intrigue around her characters. The island they are forced to call home is both a tropical paradise and a death trap. What makes this book work so well is how the author has given us strong, relatable characters, thrust them into a bizarre situation, and allowed readers to watch how they deal with it all. The author has done a fantastic job of slowly cranking up the tension until the reader has no choice but to keep reading to discover what will happen to these wonderful characters. I highly recommend Vermilion Sunrise.