Title: Across the Void (review copy)
Author: S.K. Vaughan
Genre/Themes: Science Fiction, Thriller, Action Adventure, Marriage, Artificial Intelligence,
Blurb from Goodreads
Commander Maryann “May” Knox awakes from a medically induced coma alone, adrift in space on a rapidly failing ship, with little to no memory of who she is or why she’s there.
Slowly, she pieces together that she’s the captain of the ship, Hawking II; that she was bound for Europa—one of Jupiter’s moons—on a research mission; and that she’s the only survivor of either an accident—or worse, a deliberate massacre—that has decimated her entire crew. With resources running low, and her physical strength severely compromised, May must rely on someone back home to help her. The problem is: everyone thinks she’s dead.
Back on Earth, it’s been weeks since Hawking II has communicated with NASA, and Dr. Stephen Knox is on bereavement leave to deal with the apparent death of his estranged wife, whose decision to participate in the Europa mission strained their marriage past the point of no return. But when he gets word that NASA has received a transmission from May, Stephen comes rushing to her aid.
What he doesn’t know is that not everyone wants May to make it back alive. Even more terrifying: she might not be alone on that ship.
Across the Void is a moving and evocative thriller that you won’t be able to put down.
This was for the most part an enjoyable sci fi romp across the galaxy but I did have a few issues. To me the book tried to do too many things. It didn’t know if it wanted to be a complex space set thriller or an action adventure or an analysis of marriage.
The strongest moments of this read for me were at the beginning when May woke up alone on her spaceship Hawking II and was as much in darkness about what had happened aboard as I was as the reader. The tension was palpable and I was incredibly eager to discover just what had happened to the other crew members and learn why the ship was in such disrepair.
This also was when my favourite relationship in the book was set up, that between May and the ship’s AI named Eve. I loved the bonding between woman and machine and how they both learned from each other in this difficult environment. Top marks for the first third or so of the book.
But from about 40% through I felt the book began to lag. By this stage the reader has been introduced to May’s husband at home on earth and to Robert the NASA bigwig and I felt the storylines on earth truly stagnated the reading experience. This was because there was a lot of back and forth with time jumps as more and more of May and her husband Stephen’s life together was explored.
And then the last third just got plain ridiculous. I thought the book lost its credibility with the introduction of Ian and some very silly deus ex machina heroics from one of the characters.
It’s such a shame that the book didn’t truly stick to its space thriller beginnings because that aspect of the book was so well written and so gripping.
A book with great potential that sadly for me ultimately hit a little off target.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Little Brown Book Group UK, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Published June 2019