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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Dead Silence

Updated: Feb 3, 2022


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐


"A GHOST SHIP.

A SALVAGE CREW.

UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS.


Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.


What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.


Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate."


 

Dead Silence is a standalone horror sci-fi novel by S.A. Barnes.


 

First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for granting me access to review this. Please note that this in no way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the final copy.

 

A space thriller is always an interesting subject to read about, but it is one that is surprisingly easy to mess up. Maybe that is due to big hits like Aliens being the pinnacle of the genre, but I find that it is hard to find a good space thriller that totally grips me and, unfortunately, this is no exception.


While I wouldn't say that this was a bad book, nothing about this really spoke to me, and nothing was able to redeem the aspects that I didn't like. As such, my rating is more on the generous side, giving it three stars instead of a two and a half.


My gripe with this book comes down to the fact that unreliable characters are not my cup of tea and, to my dismay, our main character fits the bill exactly. If you don't like the output in which the story is told, odds are you are not going to enjoy the story as a whole, and that is mostly the case here.


Now, let's get into the details.


 

PLOT


This is one of those stories where we start in the middle, work out way back to the beginning and then the end. I find that, while this is a fairly common format to follow, it does make forming an attachment to the characters hard. That is especially the case when right off the bat you know that most of the characters are dead.


We have a rough start that doesn't smooth out for the entirety of the book. You are initially not given a lot of context about the story, only knowing that a crew, led by our main character, are leaving their mission site K-147 when they stumble upon a ghost signal coming from an unknown origin. We don't know where they're going or what they were doing which, while the details may be minor, are context that I would have liked.


After this point, it takes a long time for the book to pick up its pace. Things were happening, but at the same time, not a lot of things were happening if you know what I mean. The story was progressing, but there wasn't much substance. Once the story kicked into high gear, I still wasn't very satisfied as the story ended up being way less thrilling than I was expecting. Again, that is mainly due to the off pacing.


The story would progress and build up, and then it would suddenly be cut off and the story would go in a different direction. Thus, I had a bit of a hard time keeping up with the story and I also felt like it didn't feel complete. There were holes in the story and the book could have benefited from being a bit longer in order to fill those in.


Another setback for me was the lack of thinking on the part of the characters. Any possible risks were ignored, which is an issue for me because it makes sympathy for the character to go out the window if you knew what was coming for them. Then we have the direction the story went in, which is a whole separate issue for me. It simply didn't work for me and was thrown off by a lack of clarity.



CHARACTERS


Let's talk about our main character, Claire Kovalik. She, in my eyes, was a textbook case of an unreliable narrator, and unreliable narrators are not my cup of tea. She is someone who has deep-set trauma (and is suffering from amnesia and hallucinations to boot) and feels like she has nothing to lose, which is a double whammy. So, not only is she unfit to be in charge of a team, she makes questionable decisions for selfish reasons which were consequences.


As for the rest of the supporting characters - Kane, Voller, Lourdes and Nysus - they felt severely underutilized. I understand that the story focuses on Claire, but the others barely get their own stories to the point where they feel irrelevant to the plot. Not much time was spent setting up characters who become more prevalent further along in the book as well. Claire is the only one with any form of development, and I didn't even like her development.



CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


This was a complete miss for me on all fronts. A less than thrilling plot that suffered from pacing issues with characters that were either unlikable or underutilized. Again, while I did end up giving this a generous three stars, there is an emphasis on the generous part. If you are looking for something to scratch that 'mystery thriller on a ship stranded in space', I don't think that this would be it.





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