Sunflowers in February is at its core a morbid book. Lily was in a car accident and woke up dead. Death is never an easy topic to face. What comes after death though, is a question I’m sure many of us do wonder about. Sunflowers in February grappled with exactly that, as Lily was in limbo, unable to move on.
Young adult books set in college, or even about the summer before college, aren’t all too common. That’s why I was surprised when I first learnt that American Panda is set at MIT. Well, Mei is 17 years old as she enters a year early but it works out well for this book. Mei had a sheltered upbringing, which is very evident as she tries to find her place at university.
As a standalone sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit did well to outline the setting. I think new readers would be able to understand things just fine. At the same time, it further expanded the world building for those who’ve read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. The characters remained central to the plot of A Closed and Common Orbit as well, thereby justifying the slow pacing.