Book Title: Across the Void
Author: S. K. Vaughn
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads, Amazon UK
Plot: 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.
I got a review copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What did I think?
I requested Across the Void from Netgalley because I both liked the blurb and the cover. A wrecked spaceship, a lonely survivor, a hint of Gravity, and a faint memory of The Martian. It all sounded fantastic.
Sadly, I was somewhat disappointed. I'll talk about the negative things first and will end on a positive note, because, at the end, I enjoyed the read.
Across the Void crams too many things into a normal-sized book. Torn between being a thriller focusing on survival, and a love story with a mystery and a redemption arc, it ends up being neither.
May is well depicted and three-dimensional, but sadly I did not like her and could not warm to her. All other characters fell a bit flat.
While the beginning feels realistic, the end does not, and I could no longer suspend my disbelief. Especially the events on Earth begin to feel over the top.
Now, for the positive:
The book opens strong. May wakes up, doesn't know what happened, is terrified and slowly builds a bond with the ship's AI, Eve. Those first 30-40% or so are exceptionally well done, and Eve is a fantastic character. I seem to have a thing for artificial intelligence with an elaborate personality.
The pacing is solid, and it never slows down to a crawl, and Across the Void kept my attention throughout. The writing is straightforward, simple and doesn't distract.
This one isn't for people who like hard SF, or who like their SF to be super realistic. However, if you are looking for some fun twists and turns in space, a dose of marriage turned sour but really they still like each other, give this one a try.