A rag tag crew is pulled together for a rescue mission after receiving an SOS from Black Quarry, a drilling project on an uncolonised planet in deep space. When they arrive, they find a devastated project and mostly dead bodies. In trying to discover what happened to Black Quarry, the rescuers unearth a virus that quickly attacks their crew. Will they suffer the same fate as those they came to help?
The book alternates between character perspectives, though Thea Sadik is the main protagonist I would say. She’s a teenage intern who was doing research with a famous scientist when pulled into the rescue mission. There’s also Doctor Tarlow, said scientist who has her own dark secrets; Coen, a survivor from Black Quarry desperate to make it off planet; Dylan Lowe, the captain; Nova Singh, a pilot who wanted to be military but couldn’t make the cut due to her vision; and a few others who are a bit more expendable. The perspective hopping works in most cases as we do get to learn more about them and care what happens to them, rather than them just being red shirts. The exception is with Dylan, who is the weak link as far as characters go. I never understood her motivations. She’s the reason most of the bad things happen to the crew – she’s impulsive and hot headed and out to prove herself, and while there is one explanation for some of this (her father was part of the Black Quarry crew) I never believed it enough or got her enough for it to work.
This is definitely a bit Alien/The Thing -esque, except not as good. It reminded me more of Prometheus, where lots of supposedly smart people do incredibly dumb things to move the plot along. Oh there’s a survivor who might hold answers and help us escape? Zap him with a stun gun and lock him in a room for a bit. A scientist who’s working on a possible cure but who lied to you? Shoot her and ask questions later. Oh, you can’t. It’s infuriating to read.
There is also another book forthcoming that will continue the story and if I had known this wasn’t a standalone I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. Sometimes you just want a complete story in one.