Friday, May 27, 2022

Review: Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

by S.A. Barnes
Release Date: FEbruary 8, 2022
2022 Nightfire
Kindle Edition; 343 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250819994
Audiobook: B092NYBM4Q
Genre: Fiction / Science-Fiction / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.75 / 5 Stars

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.
My Thoughts
Dead Silence had such an interesting concept, the same pull that I crave when reading about haunted houses: finding an empty ship that has been lost for years, then discovering the bodies are still on the ship killed in grotesque ways.  How does something like this happen? How does a luxury liner with the most famous and the richest of the rich just suddenly disappear for many years? A space concept I love. Alas, that was not to be the case as the story did not live up to its potential and I really, really struggled to get through it.  
First of all, the ideas were really interesting and I really liked the first couple of chapters.  It was ghostly, eerie, and I really soaked up the atmosphere as the crew explored the ship, horrified at what they discovered.  You could just sense this eeriness and I was expecting someone to jump out at any time, having pulled some survival botanist trick (Mark Whatney-esque) from their butt.  Unfortunately, the execution soon fell flat and I had a hard time getting through some of the scenes.  I am not a fan of dual timelines, but I do wonder if this book would have benefited from that type of writing style which would have allowed the reader to experience what actually happened originally on the ship and allow the suspense to build up as they worked through the fear with its passengers and crew.. That same fear could have carried through the present day as the current crew dealt with the same fear which would have kept up the tension and fear. The way it was written destroyed the suspense for me as it was more telling the reader what happened which is wasted in a horror novel as it lowers the suspense and tension. And honestly, it got boring. 

The biggest issue I had with this book was with the main character, Claire.  I could have happily opened up an airlock at any point and tossed her out.  I understand that she is dealing with some significant issues, but the author didn't allow for any character development or growth, not even one iota. It felt very tropey, making a main character weak so others can behave in certain ways and walk all over you even if you are the leader, creating tension between the crew.  I just had a hard time believing that someone like Claire would be in charge of something like this in such an organization. I did like the other characters though, and wish the author had focused a bit more on them, especially Cain, I adored Cain.
Dead Silence had a lot of potential, and overall, I did like some aspects of the book.  When the writing and story were good, they were GOOD, and I was entranced and couldn't read fast enough, the horror elements being interesting and eerie.  Unfortunately, the writing style was also a weakness, and there were times I had to drag myself back to continue reading, especially when Claire was being particularly annoying or the story took on more of a telling mode and lost me completely.  Maybe I am being particularly difficult as I read a lot of horror?  That being said, I will definitely read another book by this author and I am hoping she will write another space horror in the future.  


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