Salvation Day | Kali Wallace

Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

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!

The Girl in Red | Christina Henry

The Girl in Red is a post-apocalyptic, fantasy/sci-fi retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” written by Christina Henry. I heard about it recently on an email from Goodreads, listing it as one of this month’s (August) sci-fi/fantasy novels to read. I was intrigued about a book combining post-apocalyptic themes with a very familiar fairy tale (this, by the way, is something Henry has done before, with both “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan”) and it was free at the library, so I figured I’d give it a read. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectations.

The Girl in Red opens in medias res, with our protagonist, Red (real name: Cordelia), alone in the woods, on her way to her grandmother’s house, following what she calls “the Crisis.” The Crisis, which we learn more about as the book goes on, has killed a large swathe of the population and appears to be the result of an illness, called the Cough.

The story shifts between the present (“After”) and pas (“Before”), filling in the backstory about what happened in the Crisis. We learn that Red, a fan of horror films and pop culture (and something of a doomsday prepper, honestly), and her brother, Adam, escape and head to their grandmother’s house several months after the Crisis hit, after their parents (infected with the Cough) sacrifice themselves to vigilantes to allow their children to escape.

As Red continues on her journey in the present, eventually meeting up with and taking under her wing two children, named Sam and Riley, we learn more about the Cough (which appears to be an airborne virus), that there armed militias roaming through the area pillaging all available supplies from stores and capturing women and children, and that the military is out in force, tracking something classified that is killing people by bursting from their chests (a la Alien). Unfortunately, Red and Adam run into said members of the military, and during a firefight with the local militia group, Adam is killed by one of the classified monsters.

Eventually, the two storylines converge. Red and the two kids end up in the house of a grandfatherly man, who has managed to stay alive this long and has electricity and running water, thanks to a natural gas generator. While scouting for the location of another militia group, Red (and Sam, who followed) are attacked by one of the monsters (a worm with lots of teeth), before being rescued by the same members of the military that Red and Adam met up with earlier. After the two return to the house to fetch Riley, they set out on their way again. Days pass and boom they end up at Grandmother’s house. And thus the story ends. And this ending is my primary problem with it!

This book had real promise! It was innovative, and Red is a total badass (made more-so by the fact that she has a prosthetic limb). She relies on her knowledge of horror films and literature and is the only member of her family prepared for the end of the world. She’s a survivor! The method of laying out the story through flashbacks was a good idea – it kept me interested and reading because I wanted to know what happened. But it was so short. The first two-thirds of the book had lots of plot development, but once Red meets Sam and Riley, the book just gallops to the end. Suddenly, it’s as if Henry decided that no more plot building was necessary. You learn there are monsters, you see a monster, everyone is reunited, and then there’s a time jump and, lo and behold, they’re at grandma’s!

I have so many lingering questions, that I think would have been answered if the book were just a little bit longer. What was the cough? Who developed the monster? How did it get released? What was it? How did any of this happen? I know that a book doesn’t necessarily have to give the reader all the answers, but this felt particularly egregious, especially because there was so much information given at the beginning. Needless to say, I thought this was a great idea in practice, but in reality, it missed the mark for me.

2/5 stars

August Roundup

August was a really slow month, reading wise. I kept getting easily distracted by my phone and television (I’m rewatching Haven, because I never finished the last season and SO GOOD), so I wasn’t reading as much as I normally do. And, to be honest, Dune took a while to get through! So, only four books, but they were all pretty good, bar one.

They are:

  • Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson (5/5 stars)
  • We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal (3/5 stars)
  • Dune – Frank Herbert (4/5 stars)
  • The Girl in Red – Christina Henry (2/5 stars)

As summer comes to an end, I know that I will be reading more and more (who wants to go outside when its dark and grey). And there are so many books coming out this fall that I can’t wait for. And so many on my library hold list that I just know will come all at once. I wonder how many will arrive in September!

Happy reading!