Sunday, July 5, 2020

Contagion by Erin Bowman

Hevetz Industries drills for corrarium all across the galaxy and high school intern Thea happens to be helping an esteemed microbiologist with measuring its ecological impact. Just as the team completes their project, a distress signal comes through from a remote planet, forcing them to take a two month detour to investigate. Once there, the entire planet's crew seems to be dead or missing except for one suspicious boy. What happened here and is he trying to hide something?

Contagion is a sci-for horror book that feels very familiar. Bowman manages to smash the plots of Alien and Aliens together. An ill suited crew has to answer a distress call on a planet infested with parasites like the first. And lone survivor (badass microbiologist Dr. Tarlow) has to return to the planet with an ignorant crew to face the parasitic enemy (like the second). Even though it’s not particularly original, I enjoyed the setup. The world building is interesting with interplanetary travel, advanced technology, and many present day social problems. Thea and Nova are the best characters (besides Tarlow). Thea is an orphan working as hard as she can to move up in the world and be a microbiologist. Nova was banned from piloting because of a degenerative eye disease (even though it’s been mostly corrected) and flies a transport ship. It’s all she can do to keep flying. They plus Tarlow are the most sympathetic characters. 

My problems with the book stem from forgettable or infuriating characters. Dylan is the inexperienced captain who was only placed there due to nepotism. I don’t know why she makes such horrible decisions. Maybe to prove herself as competent, but every one of her choices hurts her crew more. This one dimensional character never got a redemption or reason for acting like that. I forgot most of the other crew members because nothing stood out about them and they honestly didn’t affect the narrative much. I kept having to flip back to remember who they were. 

Overall, there was just something missing with Contagion. It felt like a rather shallow story and I’m not sure why. It has all the trappings of stuff I love like zombies, parasites, and horror, but it wasn’t my favorite. Maybe the developments were too predictable or convenient. I would check out the sequel from the library just to see what happened. 

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

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