Published by HarperTeen on July 24, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction
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Perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux, Jonathan Maberry, and horror films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, this pulse-pounding, hair-raising, utterly terrifying novel is the first in a duology from the critically acclaimed author of the Taken trilogy.
After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.
When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR CONTAGION:
“Gripping, thrilling and terrifying in equal measures, Contagion is the perfect intersection of science fiction and horror—I couldn’t look away.”—Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae and Unearthed
“Few understand the true horror that lies in the empty unknown of space, but Erin Bowman nails it in Contagion. Read this one with the lights on!”—Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series and Star Wars: Rebel Rising
“Erin Bowman’s Contagion is everything I want in my science fiction: a cast of smart characters on a desperate rescue mission forced to confront an elusive and unstoppable enemy. I absolutely loved this layered and thrilling adventure and can’t wait to dive back into this world again.”—Veronica Rossi, New York Times bestselling author of the Under the Never Sky series
Not gonna lie, I’ve wanted this book since I heard of its existence no long before its release. Seriously though, I think I found out about it maybe two weeks before its release. I absolutely love a good scifi story with a monster-vibe. There are a lot of scifi stories out there, but my absolute favorites are ones like Contagion, and those are surprisingly hard to find.
I suppose this is the time I now admit I have a thing for monster stories in general, no matter the genre.
One other thing before I really get into this: the description says this is great for fans of the Resident Evil film. I haven’t actually seen the movie, but it’s based on the Resident Evil games and I actually played Resident Evil 5 last year. If you loved that game, then you will love this book. That is an absolutely amazing and accurate marketing comparison.
Lets talk about the setting and atmosphere of this novel for a second because that is quite possibly my favorite part. For me, a story really comes alive when the setting plays such an integral role in the plot. I mean, this story just would not be as incredible if it were in any other setting. Bowman plops you down on a planet you are just learning about. Many of the rules are unknown and the ones you are aware of, are enough to put you on edge. The planet itself is dangerous. Then you add in what they find on the plant? There are no words to describe it. It’s absolutely chilling and brilliant.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this, was that Bowman helped build the world of Contagion through conspiracy theories. If you ask me, conspiracy theories are something that we easily discount as humans but they’re also something we are oddly attracted to as well. And that attraction leads us to often times store that information even though we don’t believe it.
I think that’s brilliant. It establishes the character who’s spouting the theories, and it helps build the world while keeping you on your toes. Because you don’t know how much is conspiracy and how much is actually real when you enter a new world. We the readers, are depending on the characters to show us what world they live in. Who do you trust? Who’s actually right?
Also, abandoned spaceships are inherently creepy. Once I hit about page 120, I did not want to put the book down. Now, that’s not to say the previous 120 pages were bad, I’m just saying for me, that was when the book really became unsettling in the best way possible. I didn’t want to spend my day doing anything else but reading at that point.
Probably about half way through the book, there was a moment when I literally couldn’t read anymore. I was reading it aloud to my husband, stopped mid-page, and basically shoved the book at him to read instead. Now, I’m not generally an anxious person, but I could literally feel the anxiety growing inside of me while I read this book. I’ve never read any book so terrifying. I jumped at the sound of my husband opening our front door (in the middle of the day) and I was only maybe 100 pages in at that point.
Bowman has assembled a pretty interesting cast of character from a variety of backgrounds. We have the father, the pilot, the scientist, the intern, the captain with something to prove, and there’s even a conspiracy theorist. Honestly, of all of these characters the one who has left the biggest impression on me was probably Toby.
I don’t say he left the biggest impact because he was my favorite character. In fact, as I read Toby’s name, it was often followed by a comment of “freaking Toby.” Toby is the type of guy you roll your eyes at because he’s a trouble maker but also intelligent. The latter makes everything else more frustrating. For the sake of spoilers, I’m not going to go into why exactly Toby left such a huge impact on me, but suffice it to say that Toby raised my anxiety levels by 1000%.
Another notable character for me was Dylan. I say notable, but I really didn’t like her. I felt like I was supposed, and I really tried; but she felt rather selfish to me. A lot of the decisions she made were illogical and… well, selfish. Then after things go wrong, she wants to abandon the people she has put at risk because of her poor decisions, which makes her kind of coward too.
I think the stars of the book were definitely Thea and Nova. They both have incredible backgrounds, where they have overcome different but huge obstacles in their lives. They’re continuing to prove those that doubt them wrong, and I really enjoy characters like that. I have to say, I feel like Thea grew the most during the course of the novel, more so than any other character.
I would just like to note, that even though I didn’t particularly like every single character, Bowman wrote each one incredibly well. They were each very distinctive, which I think is something you don’t find in a lot of books because it’s difficult to do as well as Bowman has. Now, I don’t go into books expecting to like every character in them. And every character isn’t meant to be liked. But I don’t think anyone was written with the intent of being liked or unliked. To me, it just feels like they were just written as people. And people are flawed.
I loved this book. I will be reading the sequel next year. This is the best scifi book I’ve read in a very long time. I’ve never been able to find a book like this either, even though it’s something I’ve been hankering for, for years. If you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should. Put it at the top of your to-read pile. Trust me, you won’t regret it.