Review: The Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton

The Last Murder at the End of the WorldThe Last Murder at the End of the World by Stuart Turton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On an island at the end of the world, a small settlement of survivors lives. Outside the island there is nothing. Well, nothing but a murderous fog that contains insect-like creatures with a taste for human flesh.

I may be exaggerating this a little, but trust me, you don’t even want to dip a toe in that fog.

122-villagers and 3-valued scientists live together on the island in harmony. It’s a simple life, but they do need to abide by some stringent rules; all for their own good. We should trust the scientists, right?

Well, the villagers certainly do. One day though, the unthinkable happens. One of their beloved scientists is found murdered, thus setting into motion a chain of events that could lead to the destruction of their world.

They need to solve the murder within the next 107-hours, or risk bringing on the fog and all the terrible little creatures that come with it.

The Last Murder at the End of the World was one of my most anticipated releases of 2024. I’ve really enjoyed both of Turton’s previously releases and was excited to see what sort of brain-teaser he was going to create for us next.

Sadly, this one just wasn’t suited to my tastes, but I can still appreciate the solid plot progression and creativity it took to create this whole world.

IMO, this book would work best for Literary Fiction fans, who enjoy stories with Speculative, or Futuristic elements.

I did enjoy the very beginning; the introduction to the setting and characters. It was all very mysterious and murky. It was giving me serious LOST vibes.

Not the attractive people suddenly stranded on a beach thing, though. More the disturbing community bits that they discover on the island way later…

I feel like I knew very early on, around page 37, what one of the big reveals was going to be. I don’t normally care about that, actually, I don’t. I don’t care about that, but unfortunately for me, the reveal I felt was coming is a trope I don’t tend to enjoy.

True to trend, it didn’t work for me here either. Obviously, I am not going to spoil for you what that is, but I’m aware that is strictly a personal taste issue, and is no way a reflection on Turton, or his work.

In fact, I doff my cap to Turton’s writing, creativity and overall mental prowess. It’s clear, if you’ve ever read one of his books, that his brain works better than around 95% of the rest of us.

For me though, this failed to capture my attention. I feel like some of it was kept too obscure, meaning, I couldn’t picture any of this. I was being told a lot of things, but I couldn’t actually imagine it, in my mind’s eye, playing out.

I also did find the pace to be incredibly slow, and not in an enticing slow burn sort of way. More in a, I’m starting to fall asleep way. And once I started to feel that, I couldn’t shake it. I really just wanted it to be over, which hurts me to say, but we’re all about honesty in this house.

I was fortunate to receive an early copy of the audiobook, because that definitely helped me to get through this one. I did find the narration quite charming.

At the end of the day, this just wasn’t a great fit for my tastes. The content wasn’t something I enjoyed. Nevertheless, I still love and admire Stuart Turton as an author and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!

Thank you to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark and Tantor Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. Even though this wasn’t my cup of tea, I am still very glad I had the chance to pick it up!

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Review: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Ghost StationGhost Station by S.A. Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ophelia Bray is a psychologist specializing in the study and prevention of ERS, a space-based condition, similar to PTSD, that can lead to mental deterioration and violence.

Dr. Bray is assigned to join a small exploration crew as they journey to an ancient, abandoned planet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take Ophelia long to realize that the new crew isn’t exactly excited to have her aboard.

They’ve never needed a Head Doc before, why now?

Ophelia is confident in her purpose though, so she just tries to do her best to fit in and help them to understand the reasons for her attendance. She knows better than most just how imperative her skills may become.

The rest of the crew have worked together before and feel more like a family than a team. Ophelia, as the only outsider, has a long way to go to endear herself to the group.

As they begin to establish themselves on the abandoned planet, they start discovering disturbing signs left behind by the previous colonizers, who apparently departed with haste.

It presents a real mystery for the crew. They have no idea what happened to the previous inhabitants, but signs are pointing to the fact that they didn’t live happily ever after.

The longer Ophelia and the crew remain on the planet, the more unnerving things become, until Ophelia’s worst nightmare starts to come to life.

Ghost Station is the latest from S.A. Barnes, author of Dead Silence, which I read and really enjoyed. I’ve been anxiously anticipating more from Barnes ever since. I loved the SF Horror vibes she delivered in Dead Silence and definitely believe she succeeded on that front here as well.

For me, Ghost Station is way more of a slow burn than Dead Silence, but the content and MC, Ophelia, are so interesting, I didn’t mind that one bit. I enjoyed getting to know Ophelia and learning of her past and motivations, while watching her try to find a place within this new crew.

I also feel like you can see a maturation of Barnes writing in this one, which is lovely to see. We love to watch an author progress over the course of their career.

I really enjoyed the dangerous feel of the atmosphere that was created on the planet they were exploring. There was a sense of foreboding over every page that kept it compelling and also kept my pulse slightly elevated.

The audiobook for this was fantastically narrated by Zura Johnson. I highly recommend that as a format choice if you have the option available to you. The narration style was very soothing to me, in spite of this being an intense story. I really felt myself relaxing into it.

I was extremely satisfied with how Barnes wrapped this up. The conclusion surprised me in the direction it ultimately took. I wasn’t expecting it and I was happy with that.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys SF Horror, or darker SF in general. As far as Science Fiction goes, I would consider this light, with concepts that are easily understandable to a wide audience. You aren’t going to get bogged down in scientific jargon in this one, if maybe that is a concern for you.

This is an easily understandable, compelling story, with chills and thrills, as well as great characters throughout. Additionally, I think this could translate really well to film.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

As mentioned above, I was anxiously awaiting this one and it didn’t disappoint. I look forward to seeing what Barnes comes up with next!

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Review: Star Wars (The High Republic): Defy the Storm by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton

Defy the Storm (Star Wars: The High Republic)Defy the Storm by Tessa Gratton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Defy the Storm is another action-packed installment to the High Republic era of the Star Wars Canon.

Known as the Golden Age of the Jedi, the High Republic era predates all previously released Canon materials.

This is a YA story, co-written by two veteran Star Wars contributors, Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton, and is considered part of Phase III of the High Republic roll-out.

To put it in basic timeline order, at this point, the Nihil have destroyed the Starlight Beacon and have erected a barrier, the Stormwall, around territory they are now claiming as their own, an area known as the Occlusion Zone.

I got to know many of this era’s recurring characters more intimately through this novel, which I appreciated.

We follow multiple different perspectives, including Avon Starros, one of my favorite characters, Jedi Knight, Vernestra Rwoh, former frontier deputy, Jordanna Sparkburn, and the human physicist, Xylan Graf.

Efforts are made by this group to cross the Nihil Stormwall, in order to save any Republic members trapped on the other side. A top priority for rescue is Vern’s Padawan, Imri Cantaros, once thought lost on the Starlight Beacon.

I’ve read quite a few of the High Republic releases. Not all of them, but many. Enough to recognize the full cast of characters presented here and I loved being back with them.

Seeing them come together to work towards a common goal, fighting back against the Nihil, was very satisfying.

I particularly enjoyed the personal journeys that Avon and Vern went on over the course of the story. I feel like they both grew so much and learned a lot about themselves.

As mentioned above, Avon is one of my favorite characters and I easily stick by that after this installment. She’s still working to get out from under the shadow of things her mother, a former Galactic Empire Senator, has done and I just feel for her so much.

Avon’s mother is now on the side of the Nihil and it’s because of her actions they were able to successfully strike down the Starlight Beacon. I don’t blame Avon for wanting nothing to do with her anymore, still, that’s tough for a kid.

I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook and as always, I would ABSOLUTELY recommend that format. If you’ve never listened to a Star Wars audiobook before, particularly the newer ones, you just have to do so.

It’s such an incredible listening experience. The sound effects, music and voice-work bring these stories to life. In fact, this one had so much action, it had be jumping at some of the intense sounds and moments.

Thank you to the publisher, Disney LucasFilms Press and Disney Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’ve been impressed with all of the High Republic materials that I have read.

It’s amazing to me how the authors for this era continue to bring all the heart to plots that are mainly action. It’s really interesting how much I am feeling for these characters and I love it. I can’t wait for more!!

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Review: Driving the Deep (Finder Chronicles #2) by Suzanne Palmer

Driving the Deep (Finder Chronicles, #2)Driving the Deep by Suzanne Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Driving the Deep is the second novel in the Finder Chronicles by Suzanne Palmer. The first book in the series, Finder, was one of my most memorable Sci-Fi reads of 2019.

I adored Palmer’s writing style, her world-creation, the nail-biting action and the main character, Fergus Ferguson, a space repo man, was completely lovable and funny. I absolutely adored him.

In this book, we get to reunite with Fergus for another thrilling space caper.

Since the conclusion of Finder, Fergus has been recovering from those events whilst staying with his friends, the Shipmakers of Pluto, who are all well-known experts in the development of AI-spacecraft.

The downtime has given Fergus a lot of time to think about the life he left behind and with the encouragement of his friends, he decides it may finally be time to face his past. Fergus hasn’t been back to Earth since stealing his cousin’s motorcycle at the age of 15, and running away.

That theft, his first, has weighed on his conscious ever since. He finally feels ready and able to try to make amends, with the support of his friends, of course.

However, upon returning to the shipyard that houses the storage unit he left the motorcycle in all those years ago, he finds the motorcycle gone and priceless, stolen artwork in its place. What the heck?!

Before he can figure out just what happened in that storage unit, the shipyard is attacked and his friends go missing. He assumes, logically so, that they’ve been kidnapped for their scientific knowledge and expertise.

Fergus must now try to figure out the mystery of the missing bike, the stolen artwork and his missing friends. Proof that there truly is no rest for the weary.

Ahhhh, this was such a delight to read and exactly what I was in the mood for. I can’t believe it took me over 3-years to finally read this sequel.

I love Palmer’s writing and Fergus Ferguson is such a fun main character. He’s easy to root for and once you go on an adventure with him, you’ll never want to leave his side.

I need to keep the ball rolling now and pick up the 3rd-book soon. For me, this one was just as enjoyable, maybe even more so, than the 1st-book. I think the attachment I built up for Fergus over the course of the 1st-story, helped to propel this one even higher up the enjoyment ladder for me.

I also just really enjoyed the circumstances in this. Watching the relationships Fergus had built with his friends, even though it was hard for him to get close to people initially, and watching him let his walls down by returning to Earth; both of those things were just so satisfying.

I would recommend this to fans of the Murderbot Diaries. I think as far as action levels and enjoyable characters, they’re quite comparable.

Overall, this series is fast-paced and exciting, with characters you can get behind and will want to stay with for years to come. I can’t wait to read the next book.

My only disappointment with Driving the Deep is that it took me so long to get to it.

Even though I am years late to the party, thank you so much to the publisher, DAW, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This is a fantastic series!

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Review: Fox Snare (Thousand Worlds #3) by Yoon Ha Lee

Fox Snare (Thousand Worlds, #3)Fox Snare by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Fox Snare is the third book in the Thousand Worlds series, Yoon Ha Lee’s Middle Grade Space Opera. This series has been published as part of the Rick Riordan imprint.

If you are unaware, the mission of this imprint is to provide a stage for diverse voices to tell stories based upon the myths, legends and folklore of their cultures. I’ve read quite a few books from this imprint and they’ve all been fantastic.

I recommend checking them out, if you haven’t already.

This series began with Dragon Pearl, which was my favorite Middle Grade book of 2019. In that story, we meet 13-year old Min, a fox spirit.

We follow her on a rollicking space adventure to clear her brother, Yun’s, name. The world-building was incredible, the writing was fluid and engaging and the sci-fi elements were top notch.

The second book, Tiger Honor, followed Sebin, a tiger spirit, who goes on their own journey to clear a hero’s name.

I really enjoyed it as well, although I didn’t connect with it quite like I did with Dragon Pearl. That one would be really hard to beat. Nevertheless, it’s still a high quality Middle Grade story, full of action and heart.

In this third book, we get alternating perspectives between Min and Sebin, and I did like how that aspect made it feel like the series has come full circle; that everything connected for this finale in a big way.

Yoon Ha Lee’s writing, as always, was spectacular. His ability to create beautifully-constructed settings, all while adding in well-fleshed out characters and high-stakes action is truly impressive. I think any Middle Grade Reader who picks up this story will absolutely be a Sci-Fi fan for life.

I did find the perspective shifts a little hard to track initially. This could have been because I was listening to the audiobook and it was a single narrator.

While their narration was fantastic, bringing the story to life, it wasn’t quite as easy to differentiate between Min’s character and Sebin’s. I sort of wish they would have used dual narrators to add that level of distinction and clarity.

With this being said, I still feel like this is a super solid conclusion to this trilogy. I definitely feel like I felt these characters grow, mature and really come into their own over the course of this series.

I actually would love to see Yoon Ha Lee carry this world, and maybe even these characters, over into a YA, or even Adult, series. I seriously do not want this to be the last I see of the Thousand Worlds, Min, or Sebin.

Thank you to the publisher, Disney Audio and Rick Riordan Presents Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This is a great series, start-to-finish.

It’s definitely one I would recommend to anyone who loves a fast-paced, big-hearted space adventure!!

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Review: At the End of Every Day by Arianna Reiche

At the End of Every DayAt the End of Every Day by Arianna Reiche
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I was warned. I should have listened.

After reading a couple not so promising reviews for this book, I was going to skip it. There are so many new releases crowding up shelves right now, a Reader has to be selective.

Ultimately, curiosity got to me. I had to know, what was it people weren’t connecting with. I had to find out for myself.

Indeed, now I know. Normally, I would start a review by giving you a brief synopsis of the overall story. I know when I read reviews, I look for certain buzzwords and scenarios that sound like the story could be a good fit for me.

Unfortunately, in this case, I don’t think I could give you even a 20-word description of what this book is actually about. In fact, I can’t even recall what the main character’s name is and I finished this about 2-hours ago.

It does follow a girl, who wears gloves all the time, who works at a theme park that is clearly, though unnamed, supposed to represent Disneyland.

An actress died on a park ride and I think I was supposed to care about that, it was mentioned numerous times, but I didn’t. I wasn’t given enough coherent info to care.

At the end of the day, for me, this book felt like it had no point. If there was a plot buried deep within here somewhere, I never stumbled across it. There were a lot of words, but none of them seemed to make sense in the order in which they were presented.

I don’t even know who to recommend this to. Maybe, based on the vibes, if you are one of the few people who enjoyed The Tenth Girl, you might enjoy this. Also, perhaps if you enjoyed the HBO-series, Westworld, you might like this.

That’s a stretch though. I never actually watched Westworld, besides the first episode I couldn’t make it through, so take this comparison with a grain of salt.

I would actually be interested in hearing this author talk about the intent and ideas behind this story. While it wouldn’t be likely to change my opinion on it, I would definitely be interested in hearing the inspiration, and honestly, the point.

With this being said, just because this book didn’t work for me, if you think it sounds interesting, you should absolutely give it a go.

I would never want my opinion to discourage anyone from picking a book up. After all, it’s just my opinion, and what the heck do I know anyway?

Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me a copy to read and review.

Even though this didn’t work for me, I wish the author the best luck with its release!

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Review: Where Echoes Die by Courtney Gould

Where Echoes DieWhere Echoes Die by Courtney Gould
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


After their mother’s death, 17-year old, Beck, and her 15-year old sister, Riley, are supposed to go live with their Dad and his new partner in Texas. Before they go, Beck has something she needs to do.

Concocting a story of staying with a friend and her Grandmother for a bit of a vacation, Beck and Riley are free to take some time and travel where they want. Beck’s plan is to go to the town of Backravel, Arizona, to find some answers about her Mom’s mysterious final months of life.

Their Mom was an investigative reporter who became obsessed with Backravel. She traveled there frequently. At times it felt like she was choosing Backravel over them.

Beck is determined to find out why.

As they arrive in Backravel, it’s clear that something is up with this town. The people are strange and treating them even more strangely. They’re strongly urged not to take their car to town and there’s no cemeteries or churches.

The girls settle in to their rented trailer, a place where their Mom had stayed previously, and Beck digs into her investigation. She’s keeping her true goals from her sister, so in a way is continuing in the path of her Mom before her.

The town has a charismatic leader, Ricky, who runs a treatment center everyone seems to attend. Beck sets her sights on getting to the bottom of this center, these treatments and Ricky himself.

Beck befriends Ricky’s daughter, Avery, and gains a lot of new information that way. In the meantime, she also ends up falling for Avery and confiding in her in unexpected ways.

This was an interesting story. I liked the set-up and the vibe of this creepy little town. The concept made me think of a few other things. For example, it reminded me of A History of Wild Places, mostly because of the remote town that felt like a cult, or commune. I did like the mystery of that.

Also, the treatments that were talked about that Ricky performs for the citizens, it made me think of Scientology, like auditing that is performed on members. I was super interested in figuring out what was happening there.

Eventually though, I started to get bored with it and then it went in a direction that I just didn’t really care for; the twists. Put another way, while I enjoyed the mystery, I didn’t enjoy what the answer ended up being.

However, that is 100% a personal taste issue. Gould’s writing is great. The sense of place and, as I mentioned, overall mystery were well done. I did really enjoy The Dead and the Dark by this author, so I think this is just a case of this one not really matching my preferences as far as tropes go.

I did listen to the audiobook and would recommend that as a format choice. The narration is excellent. I felt it fit the tone of the story very well.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I’m glad I had the chance to read this one and will definitely be continuing to pick up Gould’s work!

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Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss

Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars: The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

It’s no secret that I love reading Star Wars novels. Whether they’re written for a Middle Grade, YA, or Adult audience, I love them all and always find them to be engaging and fun.

Recently I’ve been rewatching The Clone Wars animated series and that experience has really put me a mood for this whole era of the Star Wars timeline.

On a whim, I decided to grab this audiobook from my library. It is a novelization of the 2008-Clone Wars animated movie. Unsurprisingly, I was hooked within minutes.

I’ve read two of the other novelizations, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and loved them as well. There’s something so satisfying about revisiting these stories through a different medium, while getting additional content that helps fill out the story.

This story includes the first time, Anakin Skywalker, at this point a Jedi Knight, meets his new Padawan apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. I was so happy to read about that. I love their relationship and Ahsoka is such a special character.

If you aren’t familiar with this story, the basic gist is that the Clone Wars are on and Jabba the Hutt’s infant son gets kidnapped.

Jabba turns to the Jedi to help; he’ll do anything to get his son back. He’s a loving father, hard to believe, I know…

The Jedi agree to help, as they want access to Hutt-controlled space lanes to the outer rim. Obi-Wan and Anakin are assigned the mission.

Considering Anakin’s early life, he’s not thrilled.

Nevertheless, Obi-Wan convinces him and along with Ahsoka and some clone troops, they set out to find the missing Hutlett.

The Separatists are also interested in gaining exclusive access to those space lanes though, and just may have set a trap the Jedi are walking straight into. One involving one of my all-time favorite characters, Asajj Ventress.

This is a definitely a quick and exciting story. I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrator, Jeff Gurner, absolutely slayed it. All the different voices were so unique and true to the characters; his Yoda was spot on.

If you’ve never listened to a Star Wars novel, but love Star Wars, I highly recommend them. The sound effects, music and voice work are always spectacular. They go above and beyond what you would normally hear on an audiobook.

It’s the full experience!

In short, I had an absolute blast with this. It is a fantastic novelization and as expected, the audio format is a stellar production.

Now I just need to rewatch the movie!!

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Review: Court of Lions (Mirage #2) by Somaiya Daud

Court of Lions (Mirage, #2)Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Court of Lions is the second book in Somaiya Daud’s Mirage duology. This is a YA-Science-Fiction story following an ordinary peasant girl, Amani, who ends up being selected to be the body double for the Princess of their ruthless society.

Giving me Amidala’s handmaiden vibes from the start…

I really enjoyed the first book and knew immediately I wanted to continue on with the sequel. The story itself took me by surprise. For some reason I was expecting more of a blend of SFF, but this is definitely solid in the SF-category.

I found it to be fast-paced, drama-filled and enjoyed the writing style a lot. I also liked the cultural influence Daud lovingly-channeled into the story. Those details made it feel more unique compared to other stories in this genre.

This second book picks up not long after the first. Amani is still getting pulled in two different directions. She continues to want to help the rebellion; to try to make their world a more just place.

On the other side, she has started to build a friendship, however tenuous, with Princess Maram. Amani doesn’t want to betray her, but how can she possibly get Maram to see things from her perspective? More importantly, could she ever get Maram to use her power for change?

There’s also interesting romantic developments in this installment. Maram’s arranged fiance, Idris, of course seems better suited to Amani, but how the heck is that going to work? Their difference in stations would never allow them to be together formally.

And an intriguing new character ends up catching the eye of the thus far frosty-hearted Maram. You could cut the tension with a knife.

One of my favorite aspects of this story though, was the character growth displayed in both main characters, but in Amani in particular.

Amani grew so much in confidence and in the strength of her convictions. She became a leader over the course of the story; the kind of person even powerful people like Princess Maram could turn to for guidance and thoughtful advice.

I felt like Amani, as well as Maram, both were able to grow into the people they were destined to be and a lot of that was because of their unpredictable friendship/alliance.

It definitely felt predictable as we headed towards the final stretch, but honestly, it’s the outcome I wanted. It was a satisfying conclusion and I thought Daud did a great job with the overall arc of the story.

I’m glad I wrapped up this duology and am looking forward to reading more from Daud in the future. I hope she continues in the Sci-Fi space.

I feel like she did an exceptional job bringing a new creative voice to that genre. It felt fresh and fun, but also contemplative and layered. Well done!

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Review: Fractal Noise (Fractalverse #2) by Christopher Paolini

Fractal Noise (Fractalverse #2)Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fractal Noise is set in the same world as Paolini’s 2020-release, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. I really enjoyed that fast-paced story of first contact, so was pretty excited when I heard of this release.

As with To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, I listened to the audiobook of this and it is incredibly well done. I cannot recommend it enough as a format choice for taking in this story.

Jennifer Hale is such a talented voice artist and truly is able to bring life to the characters and the story. Additionally, there’s great sound effects included, perfect for this high-tech SF-tale.

In a way, this is also a story of first contact. It’s not as intense, or action-packed, as TSIASOS. It has a lighter touch and focuses more on the philosophical side of our place in the universe, our purpose and what our relationship would/should be with other sentient beings.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still gripping, emotional and full of tense moments, just overall, it’s a different focus for the SF-elements, IMO.

In Fractal Noise, our main character is Alex. Alex is a xenobiologist, who has lost his wife and at the beginning of the story, to say he is struggling emotionally would be to put it mildly. What even is the purpose of his life anymore?

In spite of his depression, Alex is an active member of the crew of a ship called the Adamura and this crew ends up discovering a giant hole, an anomaly, on the desolate planet of Talos VII. Perhaps, Alex has a purpose after all.

It’s unlike anything that could occur naturally. It’s too perfect. It has to have been created by something, or someone, but for what purpose?

The crew of the Adamura agree to partake in a mission to investigate the hole first hand. The truth of the anomaly could help to fill in answers for some of the mysteries of the universe. Who wouldn’t want to investigate that?

Because of the nature of the hole, they can’t touch down too close. They have to land some distance from the hole and then traverse the planet on foot in order to even get close. It’s incredibly dangerous. The four member team is ready to take it on though.

The other members of the team are Talia, Chen and Pushkin. Each of them specializes in a different area of science and each brings their own strengths and weaknesses to the table.

These individuals cannot be more different and their personalities definitely clash at times. It ends up bringing quite a bit of tension to the story. If you think their only threat would be aliens, or the hole itself, you’d be wrong. Humans can be volatile, whether on terra firma or in space.

The coolest aspect for me though was the hole itself. Once they begin their mission on Talos VII, it becomes clear very quickly that the hole is emitting a pulse of some sort. It’s so powerful that it messes with their comms and they can feel it through every fiber of their bodies.

If I am remembering correctly, it is emitted in a pattern, something like every 10.9-seconds. The closer they get, the more powerful it is. It gets to the point where it seems it is driving them a little mad.

Additionally, the closer they get to the hole, the higher and higher the tension gets amongst the team members. What is up, what is down? It’s hard to keep it straight. Who is in the right, and who is the evil one in their ranks?

I really enjoyed my time listening to this. I feel like Paolini is such a solid SF-writer. The story flows so fluidly and is full of fantastic sci-fi concepts and ideas, yet is so approachable and easy to understand.

I felt like I really got to know these characters and while I wasn’t crazy about all of them, or even most of them, I felt like I understood where they were coming from and why they made the choices they did. Their conversations did open up lots of avenue for thought into our place, and our greater role, as a species in the universe.

I would recommend this to people who enjoy SF-stories with a dangerous space-set mission, or stories of first contact. Especially if you like considering those types of scenarios for our own future, what that could mean. I felt really connected to this story and definitely hope Paolini continues writing in this genre.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I have nothing but the highest praise Hale’s narration and this audio production in general!

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