It's a testament to how much I enjoyed book one of this series [book:The Calculating Stars|33080122] because I jumped right into reading the second book and finished in less than a week, despite having an insanely busy week with very little reading time available. I may perhaps have avoided some things I should have been doing in favor of finding out what was happening on the mission to Mars.
If you're going to read this one, you're going to want to read the first book first. The emotional impact of a lot of moments is much stronger if you know the events and characters of the first book.
One thing I enjoyed in both books is how complex the characters are. Antagonists have admirable qualities alongside their problematic characteristics and our protagonist is realistically flawed. Characterization is even stronger in book two. Everyone feels real. Some sad things happen in this book. I won't tell you what, so I don't spoil it for you, but I will compliment the writing of those emotional moments. I teared up more than once in the reading. I cried for a character I never would have expected to come to care about, too.
I'm often not a fan of "hard science fiction" because the world building can swallow the characters and story elements, and story and character are what I showed up for. If I want to read a science text, then I'll go to the nonfiction section, thanks. This book (and its predecessor) beautifully meld the science with character and story and kept me engaged.
I'm sad there's not another book in this series out there ready for me to read yet. I'm not done lingering with this story.