A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.
They thought the ship would be their salvation.
Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.
But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.
And then they woke it up.
Salvation Day takes place some 400 years in the future, when space travel is routine, and humanity has survived – and recovered from – a devastating crisis. We never learn much about what that crisis was (but it isn’t hard to guess, given what humans are currently doing to the planet), but the characters in our story exist hundreds of years past that point, when there is a global society, controlled by the United Councils of Earth. However, not everyone chooses to live as part of the Councils, and rogue settlements and groups exist in the spaces (in the case of the United States, the desert) outside of the Councils’ control. Zahra, one of our main characters is a member of one of these separatist groups, a cult lead by a man called Adam Light.
Under Adam’s direction, Zahra and some other cult members are tasked with capturing Jaswinder Bhattacharya, the sole survivor of the House of Wisdom, a research ship that was abandoned in space ten years ago, after a deadly virus that massacred everyone else onboard. Jas, who was a child at the time of the massacre, is the only one with a genetic signature able to enter the ship. Seemingly abandoned by the global government, the House of Wisdom is ripe for the taking in Adam Light’s view and a way for his “family” to escape the bondage of the Councils (by literally escaping into space). Unfortunately, nothing goes according to plan (I can’t tell you anymore without spoilers)!
This, my friends, was right up my alley. I love a good science fiction movie, and Salvation Day has all the hallmarks of a good one, but in book form! From the very first page, it had me hooked – I was supposed to be cleaning my house, but I kept sitting down to read, because I had to know the fates of Zahra and Jas, the two main characters.
From the get-go, the book is tense. It is very clear that Zahra and her crew are woefully unequipped for the task they’ve been given – most are not experienced in space and it becomes quickly apparent (thanks to alternating viewpoints between Zahra and Jas) that whatever information they have about the House of Wisdom (either officially, from the government, or from Adam Light himself) is incredibly incomplete. There is plenty of conflict between our two main characters as they fight for control of the ship and simultaenously attempt to figure out what happened ten years ago. As time passes and it becomes increasingly clear that a virus was not responsible for the massacre onboard, Zahra and Jas resolve their differences and begin to work together to save themselves, Zahra’s “family,” and everyone on earth.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that it did not put things in black and white terms. Zahra was, initially, the antagonist, but at the same time, not really. I really loved her personal growth throughout the story, as she begins to recognize the brainwashing of Adam Light’s teaching (cults, y’all) and realizes that what he wanted was simply to hurt the councils, rather than save the family. Jas also went through a period of growth, fighting his own self-loathing for being the only survivor of the massacre, and instead putting his knowledge of the ship (on which he grew up) and the training instilled in him by his parents, both of whom died onboard, to assist Zahra in saving the day.
This was a really good read, and went quickly. It was action-filled, never boring, and, while it mentioned science and technology, was not inaccessible to the non-science brained people among us. I highly recommend it, and I hope they make it into a movie ASAP!