I got this book from Orbit and it was an AUDIOBOOK version!!! I was just so, so stoked to get one of those, it makes things so much easier on me time-wise.
So, this is my first David Wellington book and looking at his Goodreads profile he’s an established author I just haven’t gotten into yet.
I saw the cover for this and was instantly intrigued. I like disaster space stories, and the cover of a cracked spacesuit helmet drew my attention right away. I was in the mood for a weird, horror-like space story and that’s exactly what I got.
So, there are multiple POVs in this, including a robot (I always enjoy different authors interpretations of non-human characters), and they are all thrown into a first-contact situation. There’s a pilot, a doctor, a space-soldier of sorts, and a robot, they are going to Paradise-1, a planet that’s potentially in distress, there’s about a hundred thousand people on this colony world and they’ve lost contact with the main hub of humanity.
So, off they go — and they get attacked. By presumably the people they’re trying to save. There’s an alien entity that can take over your mind and leave it hollowed out with the exception of the viral thought it places there. That sounds weird, but this of it like an earworm like a song. The alien will plant a thought such as, “you’re hungry” into a person’s mind, and they will continue to eat until they die, and if there’s nothing left for them to eat they will eat their own bodies just to comply with this all encompassing thought. The alien wants to protect this planet at all costs, and so hundreds of ships are orbiting this planet, all of them infected with various viral ideas. It doesn’t have to be that you’re hungry, it could be anything, like “you’re only safe in the dark”.
I really liked most of this book, I gave it a 4 instead of a 5 for a couple reasons. I don’t like cliff-hanger endings. I’m okay with open ended questions, unresolved plot points, but to leave it at a literal cliff hanger isn’t something I enjoy. I also wasn’t totally sold on the crew’s dynamics. The pilot and the soldier were once in a relationship… kind of… they fucked a lot for a week a long time ago and it makes the whole situation odd. It just didn’t need to be there, honestly. Also, like, what are the chances? Those types of old-flame meet ups where it’s unlikely this scenario would ever happen kind of pull me from the story. But really those are my only two complaints, this was a great little psychological horror/first contact story!