Hester Marley used to have a plan for her life. But when a catastrophic attack left her injured, indebted, and stranded far from home, she was forced to take a dead-end security job with a powerful mining company in the asteroid belt. Now she spends her days investigating petty crimes to help her employer maximize its profits. She’s surprised to hear from an old friend and fellow victim of the terrorist attack that ruined her life—and that surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he claims to have discovered something shocking about their shared history and the tragedy that neither of them can leave behind.
Before Hester can learn more, her friend is violently murdered at a remote asteroid mine. Hester joins the investigation to find the truth, both about her friend’s death and the information he believed he had uncovered. But catching a killer is only the beginning of Hester’s worries, and she soon realizes that everything she learns about her friend, his fellow miners, and the outpost they call home brings her closer to revealing secrets that very powerful and very dangerous people would rather keep hidden in the depths of space. – Goodreads
TL;DR: A solid and accessible foray into hard science fiction with a likeable main character and innovative technological concepts.
I haven’t always been a hard sci-fi gal because I’m an idiot, but Dead Space by Kali Wallace sucked me in from the synopsis: a murder mystery set in space? Who cares if I don’t understand the jargon or the scientific concepts, yes, please.
Thankfully, the jargon and the scientific jargon in this book are, though not exactly easy to understand for a noob like me, accessible, and they furthered the story rather than bogged it down. In fact, I was so impressed by the author’s scientific and technological knowledge and couldn’t imagine just how much research she had had to put into creating such a believable story. *cue that Leo gif where he stands up to applaud* I will say, though, since I’ve never been into hard sci-fi, the middle portion of the book did slow down for me, and I found myself in a small reading slump. So, if you’re anything like me, please take your time with this book, and don’t feel bad for doing so!
Let’s talk about the characters. I think that the problem with hard sci-fi in general is that since it’s so plot-driven, the characters can sometimes lack. A lot. Hester Marley, our main character, is quite fleshed out, which is awesome. Everyone else? Not so much. Especially the villain, which is. Such. A. Shame. Hence, there could have been a little bit more oomph for each character overall because at the end of the story, I realized I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters…
The setting takes place in space (duh), mainly on a fictional mining asteroid of Nimue that is controlled by megacorp, Parthenon that has some dark secrets up its sleeve. Wallace has created such rich lore around Nimue and the rest of the asteroid belt, and that was a pleasure to read and discover; I don’t love series, but I wish she had either made this book longer or written another book because the world building is so decadent.
The author also spends ample time building up the main theme of the story, which is power, specifically from megacorporations and how they police people and hide the truth. Parthenon doesn’t seem political, but oh, honey, it is, and the author creates parallels with real life that are hard to miss, yet naunced. It was actually quite scary to read what Hester goes through by the hands of Parthenon throughout the entire story. And somehow, she doesn’t seem too perturbed by it and manages to push through day by day, though, I guess she’s numb by now and thus, doesn’t have a choice not to.
Vanguard is the cutest robot to ever exist. Wall-E, who? I want my own Vanguard, oh my gosh. It’s so smart, so sweet, so protective, so curious, and so badass! Its favorite pose is also that of a praying mantis, and if that’s not extra adorable, I don’t know what is.
Dead Space by Kali Wallace contains blood, violence, and murderous robots. The novel also features themes of corruption and brainwashing. Please read at your own risk.
Read: 09/08/22 – 10/25/22