Scott Russell Sanders’ book, Terrarium, is a unique, stand-alone novel. It is primarily science fiction with a strong subplot of romance. Its primary audience is young-adult and up as it tackles more mature themes like the place of sexuality and suicide.
Science fiction is a broad scope of many books which have been written in the past two hundred years. They have covered almost every topic and inspected almost every possible social issue. Some are wonderful conglomeration of ideas and bizarre concepts. This book is an interesting synthesis of several catching concepts and moral conundrums.
Terrarium follows the story of a man living in a futuristic world where people seek to become enlightened but refuse to acknowledge themselves. They fear the natural world but are slowly dying without it. The story tackles issues of environmental abuse, personal identity, and relationships.
Phoenix, the protagonist, is an average citizen of a future world where humanity has retreated into domed cities that float on the ocean to escape the world that they poisoned. He lives a boring, sedentary life full of self-indulgence and emptiness. Until he meets Teeg, a free-spirited woman who refuses to follow the system. Together they must discover the truth behind the dome cities and themselves.
Terrarium create a unique world of floating cities in a barren world that humanity is desperately trying to leave nature behind. Sanders crafts a society that is both believable and different from our own. It is full of unique customs and intriguing technology that makes sense with his world.
The plot displays strong development. It provides an intriguing platform to view the cultural and personal problems that are examined. While I would not consider it extremely original or deep, I believe that it does a good job of weaving the characters together and presenting the theme.
Character driven stories are always my favorites. These novel works to present its main character as the focus. It centers around his internal struggle and journey as his world is drastically and forever changed. He could have been a stronger character than he was. His character was not bad but I felt that he needed more depth to be the primary protagonist.
I would recommend this book to any lover of science fiction. If a reader has any interest in environmental issues then it is also a great book. It is not perfect but its high points outweigh its problems.