by Courtney Alameda
Published February 2018
Goodreads: See here
Young Adult / Horror / Sci-Fi
Featured image taken from my instagram: @bookbastion
Synopsis at a Glance:
Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.
Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.
Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.
Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.
In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.
Back in the springtime of my youth, when I still had time for hobbies outside of reading like video games, I was a rather big gamer. I played them all, and still have a pretty sizable collection of games that my book collection has of course far surpassed. One of my favorite gaming series was Dead Space, which was a pulse-pounding, terrifying and atmospheric sci-fi horror game set aboard a space station in the throes of an unstoppable danger consuming the passengers trapped within its walls.
Coming across this book at the bookstore was a lot like coming across Dead Space again. Even the premise is quite similar to the premise of the games: a destructive alien force sweeps through a space ship, twisting its inhabitants into terrifying monsters. As a fan of horror and sci-fi blends in general, I know I’d appreciate this book for what it was. I just can’t help feeling like it could have been something more, had it been given a bit more of a chance to develop.
If you love stories that have constant action, you’ll likely really enjoy this. The story begins with a bang immediately in chapter one, and is just relentless from that point on. The plot movement never lets up until the end.
Alameda did a wonderful job infusing a story about death and despair aboard a derelict spaceship with a breath of life that I was honestly quite surprised by. It’s entertaining for sure, but there were some downsides to the story within all that momentum that I can’t overlook.
There are a number of plot holes caused by the fact that the story never takes the time to slow down and provide explanations. For example:
What exactly happened to the ship in the first place that turned a fair chunk of its crew into monsters?
This seems to get almost totally ignored until the last action sequence of the book, when I guess what is supposed to be an explanation is delivered, but totally unexplored and just left me with more questions than answers.
How did the nefarious eco-terrorist group, Pitch Dark, manage to survive for so long?
Even their motives for wanting to commit crimes against humanity’s chances of survival aren’t explained very well.
How the heck did any of the minor antagonists in this book manage to pull off the crimes they commit without being caught?
Explaining the hows or whys of anything seem to fall by the wayside in favor of furthering the action and body horror scenes.
Of all the characters in this book, the only one I felt connected to was Laura. She is definitely the most fleshed out of all the characters in the book. Tuck is a little less impressive than Laura, given that he’s basically just a walking pop-culture quote dispensary. I kind of cringed reading all the references to 80s movies and Doctor Who though. Teens might love it, but they felt out of place given the situation the characters were placed in.
Laura’s storyline is the only one with any real gravitas, as it attempts to tackle what racism in the future might look like – what evils it might lead to as she is subjected to a different sort of body horror entirely when placed under the control of a body manipulating device called a Subjugator. This device gives her boyfriend and his affluent (and white) family complete control over her body, mind and voice. It’s a scary concept, for sure, but I felt like even this was underutilized by the end of the book. Especially as Laura never utilizes moments when she’s free of its control to her advantage.
Lastly, this book commits one of my least favorite cardinal YA sins: when teenage characters refuse to involve adult characters even when the situation is life and death.
The stakes are literally life and death every moment in this story, yet Tuck and Laura take it upon themselves to save the day. Even when faced with opportunities to involve adults, to ask for help, the story cleverly side steps those opportunities.I understand that it’s young adult, but in a situation like the ones these characters were placed in, to have more than half the cast just sit back and let the two teenage characters handle things feels inherently false.
Teens can ask for help from adults. It’s okay. It won’t break the bank and ruin a young adult story.
This is not a bad read. I thought it was entertaining for what it was. It feels like a novelization straight out of the Dead Space universe. For fans of action packed stories, or sci-fi horror, you will find something you like here. I just think it could have been more than it was.
🌟🌟🌟 = 3 out of 5 stars
So while this wasn’t exactly the book for me, it might be perfect for you? Do you like horror as a genre for books, movies, games?
P.s. Sorry about all the gifs from Schitt’s Creek in this review! I’m obsessed and can’t pass up an opportunity to share my love for it.