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The 1-line Review:
The last 4 words were the most thrilling. There was too much ambiguity to get deeply invested.
The longer review:
This is a ‘Don’t read the last page first’ kind of story. Some people peak, but don’t; otherwise it kills the whole story. I have not read any other story in this series, and this story is readable if it is your first one. While this story is a good read for a sci-fi/thriller, it didn’t make me so invested as to want to read others from the series.
The ARC, essentially an alien collection vessel and mobile habitat, was filled with creatively dangerous species from a newly discovered planet. The crew member get trapped inside the recreated habitat and have to traverse the region in its entirety to get to a maintenance door and exit. The ship is cool, the creatures are cool. The action scenes and suspense are nice, but there is an amount of ambiguity from start to finish that kept me from getting deep into the story.
I think over-engineered technology drives the plot. That is to say, there would have been no danger if engineers had put door handles on all the automatic doors. Normally I don’t like when the storyline hinges on something so little. In this case I like it because it sheds some light on the way we are designing technology now. (Like key-less entry cars with electronic backup systems to open them in case of failure. If the electronics totally fail, you cant open the car…) Anyway the engineer in me is digressing…
Props to Thracker for writing this story in a month. If you like his work, I would say this book was better than Golden Crystal but not as good as The Depths. (Have not read Enigma Strain yet, so cant judge that one.)
Where the book lost a half star:
Why even enter the zoo in the first place. The team could have figured away to defend against one species in the conference room. And Malai (the one team member not trapped) could have blown open the conference door, rather than the door he actually blew up. Common sense wise, it dint make sense.
The team of explorers about the ARC (spaceship) refer to their specie’s traits and how they do or do not resemble those traits. But never do we get an inkling of what this species looks like. So I ended up thinking about them all as humans who talked kind of nerdy. All the actions they take sound human; walk, sit at tables, eat soup, sleep lying down, etc. All of that is entirely human, nothing stood out as different. However all the other species in this book were clearly set apart from earth species.
Every species was designated a number and no name. Makes sense, but at times I have to stop and think which were which because you can forget when every name is a number.
While the over-ingenuity lucked out as being a plus, the team suffered from single personality disorder. With maybe one or two exceptions, the essence of almost every team member was the same; logical to a fault, stick to protocol, little creativity, meticulous. The team was very ISTJ when an advanced society capable of space travel should be able to get a more diverse team together.