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Contagion #1


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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.


“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

425 pages, Hardcover

First published July 24, 2018

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About the author

Erin Bowman

15 books1,900 followers
Erin Bowman is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for children and teens, including the Taken Trilogy, Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails, the Edgar Award-nominated Contagion duology, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden, and the forthcoming Dustborn. A web designer turned author, Erin has always been invested in telling stories—both visually and with words. Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children. You can visit her online at embowman.com, on twitter @erin_bowman, or on instagram @heyerin.

Erin is represented by Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties.


PLEASE NOTE: Erin does not check goodreads mail. If you message her this way she will not see it. For contact methods, visit Erin's website.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,102 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,423 reviews8,960 followers
November 2, 2022

OHHHH BABY!!! Erin Bowman, I see you and I like you.

Contagion is a wild ride. Zombies in space!

Y'all know, everything is better in space.

When an SOS gets sent from a mining crew on a distant planet, a quickly assembled team heads off to investigate.

The number one selling point of this ragtag team, is they're available and closest to the planet in question.

They aren't prepared as far as manpower, experience or equipment go, but they head out on the mission nonetheless.

Once arriving at their destination, they discover an abandoned site and a bunch of dead bodies, but not much else. Or so they think.

Then, unexpectedly, the dead come back to life and they're hella angry!

The rest of the book is a high-octane race to escape the planet before, they too, are turned by the dangerous contagion lurking amidst the abandoned mining zone.

Zombie chases and fight scenes. Brutal slayings. Bodies dropping. A dark, cold landscape and abandoned space ships. All pretty stellar stuff, if you ask me.

This does follow multiple POVs, which at times seemed perhaps a little unnecessary, but in a way, I do understand the author's choice.

Due to the multiple POVs, jumping back and forth, it did gain some intensity from that. I know that is a personal choice as a reader, whether or not you enjoy that format. I can honestly say, I didn't mind it at all.

I would definitely say this is more of an action-based story to a character-based story. For me, the action was pretty high throughout.

The ending was the perfect leave in anticipation of the sequel, which I have already purchased and am hoping to get to soon.

In short, if you like Horror or Science Fiction involving remote planets, zombies, mass infections and rescue missions, you should definitely give this book a try!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
July 29, 2020
I am quite sure this will work perfectly for a certain kind of reader. Contagion is a very, very fast-paced sci-fi horror novel about a plague and several deaths. As such, this might be good for fans of fast-paced scifi like Heart of Iron, or maybe more suspenseful scifi like The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. But it didn’t give me the same punch I wanted, and that cliffhanger ending on what is essentially a thriller just does not work for me.

I’m tired and behind on reviews, so here’s a quick rundown of stuff I liked and didn't like:
✔the writing is really quite good
✔the world is............ generic as all shit because of course it is
✔ya scifi just really be like that
✔granted, it is scary as fuck
✔none of the plot twists were really wild and i guess i tend to like those in my scary books
✔the plot structure is a little lacking and it just feels sort of random
✔strong creep factor, again
✔but why are they all so goddamn dumb? plot reasons that's why
✔OVERALL the plot just isn’t substantial enough to hold up a series opener
✔the two leads are Thea, a Korean-Turkish intern, and Nova, an Indian sapphic pilot with visual impairment
✔they’re both fairly developed i guess?
✔I also totally would’ve forgotten their names if I had not written them down
✔the point of view switches come way too fucking fast you do NOT need to switch every two pages

✔there are no major thematic threads
✔i really just don’t even know how to make this sound memorable. it is scary as fuck but i will forget about it quite soon

Anyway, hope you all enjoy this more, did you miss me reviewing because I sure did

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Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,609 reviews4,999 followers
February 5, 2020
#1 Contagion ★★★★★
#2 Immunity ★★★★☆

I am a huge fan of sci-fi/horror mash-up stories, whether they’re in books, film, whatever, and after how much I enjoyed Erin Bowman’s Vengeance Road duology last year, I knew I had to check this out! It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, but I was also a little bit nervous because I wasn’t 100% sure whether Erin’s writing would translate as well to this setting.

It got in us and most are dead. Decklan flew for help. Don’t trust the kid.

Thankfully, it absolutely did, and I was hooked from the very first page. This story was fast-paced, creepy, and full of intrigue and back-stabbing. There are so many different catalysts coming together to create this perfect storm of dread and suspense, whether it’s the infection itself, the people who already are infected, the storms on the planet they’re trapped on, malfunctioning equipment, or even just the fear that comes with not knowing who on their team they can or can’t trust—the distress rolling off of these characters is downright tangible, and you can’t help but fall right into that fear alongside them.

“Trust me when I say the last thing you want to test is the power of nature.”

Not only is the fear factor there, but the atmosphere in the storytelling is fantastic. Part of why I struggle with sci-fi sometimes is that it can be hard to fully immerse myself, but with Contagion, I felt like I was right there on Achlys with the crew. Something unique to this story, among other “infection” stories, is that everything feels perfectly plausible and imaginable, which lends another layer to the terror—there’s no major suspension of disbelief required to get sucked in to this one.

Every lie he’d told—every half truth he’d yet to utter—was purposeful. If the Odyssey crew didn’t fight him, he could potentially save them all.

On top of everything else, the story switches perspectives (all in third person, so it flows very smoothly), constantly giving you just pieces here and there of a character’s motives. Right to the end, even the reader can’t ever be entirely certain of who to trust, and it’s such a fantastic touch! There are several characters, each of them genuinely important, though some feel more three-dimensional than others, of course, such as the teen girls who serve as our two primary “narrators”: Thea, a Korean-Turkish biomedical intern, and Nova, a queer black pilot with a sight impairment (and the representation is executed well, in my opinion).

“Follow the bloody footprints, they said. What could go wrong, they said.”

All in all, Contagion was a delightful read from start to finish. I never once found myself bored, and honestly, now all I can think about is how long I’m going to have to wait on the sequel, which I desperately need right now! So, if you’re a fan of sci-fi or horror (but especially both), I strongly recommend this one.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to HarperTeen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for joanna ☽ the little brown fairy.
117 reviews200 followers
August 4, 2018
Firstly: I can’t wait for 2019. The sequel for this is going to be amazing. I can already feel it.

This was honestly such a fantastic, gripping story; it kept me up reading all night, even though I knew what the consequences would be in the morning. (They were not pretty consequences.) It’s one of those rare books that steals your breath and holds you so tightly that you’re afraid to tear your eyes away from the pages even for a second.

You can read my full review here on starburnt reads!

What drew me to this book was the synopsis: the promise of mystery and disease and death, and all the juicy stuff that’s horrifying in real life and therefore a wonderful story to read. And it absolutely delivered. This book is eerie, terrifying, heartbreaking, and almost everything I could want from a sci-fi novel.

“Was he still human if he could do inhuman things? Was he a monster wearing familiar skin?”

It starts a little rough, with a heavy info-dump that (while necessary) didn’t do much to interest me in the story, although the map and graphics in the front were beautiful. Then we start the actual prologue, and it’s haunting and creepy enough to interest you.

After that, things get a little more confusing. Initially I found the sudden switches in POV to be disorienting, and it took about half the novel for me to adjust to the way it’s laid out. The changes in POV are much easier later on, when we know the characters well enough, and actually help to add to the suspense.

The vast majority of Contagion is incredibly difficult to put down. The tension running through every one of the scenes had me on edge — which is something that’s hard to achieve with me most of the time, having read maybe one too many “action” books to feel properly terrified anymore. But the pacing is done so well, and the chapters from “him” (a mysterious survivor of a mass disaster) leave you with so many questions, that I just couldn’t tear myself away.

The prose was a little difficult to swallow at times. It makes sense and flows smoothly for the most part, and fits the genre pretty well – but occasionally there would be an odd turn of phrase, a misspelled word, or missing punctuation. I’m assuming that these slip-ups will probably be ironed out before publication (I read an ARC), and they didn’t really impact my understanding of the story or my enjoyment, but it’s worth a mention.

There is also some LGBT rep in this book, which is wonderful, and at several confirmed PoC. I find that I don’t really have a clear picture in my head of many of the characters, and they were mostly ambiguous. I enjoyed the personality characterisation and how we were always given reasons and motives when characters acted, even if they felt a little flat in some cases. Thea’s development in particular was something that I found incredibly interesting; her character overall is probably the strongest, followed shortly by Nova and Dylan. I loved the emphasis on strong female leads, especially in the STEM field.

The worldbuilding is also fairly strong. We are introduced to the politics and culture of the Trios and the Cradle with ease, and at the end, our knowledge really does pay off, rather than being unnecessary filler.

There is no bad romance or insta-love anywhere near this story. The relationships develop realistically, and this is something that’s so refreshing to see in a genre oversaturated with cheesy, unbelievable love tales.

The conclusion is wonderful. It was perfect – just the right amount of tragedy, anger, and hope. Also, I’m dying to know what happens next! Cliffhangers kill me everyyy time.

I have high hopes for the sequel (haha, how many times have I said that?) and would definitely recommend this book to others, especially since you don’t need to be an avid fan of science fiction to enjoy this thoroughly.

Thank you to HarperCollins for a free e-ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest and fair review!
initial thoughts:
help it’s 1:16am and I just finished reading this and I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep now. SO GOOD. SO MURDERY. 4.25 stars
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Profile Image for Erin Bowman.
Author 15 books1,900 followers
Shelved as 'books-i-wrote'
January 8, 2018
Contagion will be my next book after Retribution Rails and it couldn't be more different. This tends to be a trend of mine; I write in one genre and then follow it up with something polar opposite. I'm currently in the middle of a major revision, but let me get a few frequently asked questions out of the way:

The current description is really vague. Who are these two teens?
Thea Sadik, an ambitious seventeen-year-old with a love for science, and Nova Singh, a high-school dropout with piloting experience who’s looking to snag permanent work. While temporarily employed by drilling conglomerate Hevetz Industries, things go awry (naturally), and both girls find themselves on a rescue mission neither is qualified for.

Who’s the sole survivor?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Ahem. What I mean is, this is one of those stories where the less you know going in, the better, so I’m going to be a withholding jerk and tell you to read the book when it comes out.

So when does it come out?
July 24th, 2018!

Can I pre-order it?
Yes! The book is up for pre-order on most retail sites. You can also stalk the pinterest board until you wait for your copy, because July is a ways off still.

This sounds so different than your westerns! Where the heck did the idea come from?
I’ve actually been working on this story for ages. The idea first came to me back in 2012, from a dream, no less—my first novel inspired by a dream! Actually, it was more of a nightmare. At the time, I was busy writing other contracted projects, but I’ve been continually returning to this story whenever I have downtime and now it will finally be a book! If you follow me on pinterest, you’ll know this story was once titled Achlys, after the destination planet “lightyears away” in the above pitch.

Why did you retitle it from Achlys to Contagion?
Achlys, as a title, is tricky—hard to know how to pronounce (if you read it) and hard to know how to spell (if you hear about the book via word of mouth). Contagion doesn’t have that problem, plus it packs a punch. It’s mysterious, dangerous, dark—everything we needed the title to be. I’m really happy with it, and it speaks so well to the whole of the story.

Does this mean you’re done with westerns? Why do you keep jumping between genres?
Well, I have Retribution Rails, the companion to Vengeance Road, coming out in November 2017. And then, who knows! I love writing westerns, but I also love sci-fi. Just as I love dystopian. And I have the start of contemporary projects on my hard drive, as well as speculative fiction and fantasy. I read across genres and I especially love to write across genres. It keeps me on my toes, provides new challenges, and helps me grow as a writer. So, no, this doesn’t mean I’m done with westerns. It simply means nothing is off limits for me.

Wait, don’t go! You haven’t answered my question.
Leave it in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer it.
I’ll also continue to answer questions and reveal teasers via my monthly newsletter, so be sure to subscribe if that sounds like your thing!
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews280 followers
February 25, 2022
Space zombies! Well a parasite that takes over the host body but dang it them suckers are hard to kill. Our misfit rescue team is not prepared on any level when they are dispatched to look into a distress beacon on an inhospitable planet. Death and carnage are quick to follow. Greedy corporation doesn't listen because damn it could be marketable. Of course, it spreads... A great space horror read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,241 followers
July 18, 2018
I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this when I started the novel, but this is the first of a duology. After I finished this and realize there would be a sequel, I was bummed. There is just something about a solid standalone YA sci-fi/horror novel that sounded like exactly what I needed, but clearly I was wrong about the standalone part. Anyway, now you know there’s a sequel, so no disappointment for you.

Set in the future, where humans have colonized on planets out in space and the discovery of a sustainable energy source, corrarium, results in tensions among the planets. Hevetz Industries is the largest supplier of corrarium and is constantly in search of new locations where corrarium could be present leading to the events of this book..

A crew of individuals including a scientist with a mysterious past (Lisbeth) and her intern (Thea), an unqualified captain due to nepotism (Dylan), a temp pilot (Nova), mechanic (Sullivan), and a couple tech guys (Toby & Cleaver) all stationed at a research facility are being sent on a rescue mission to a planet deemed uninhabitable after Hevetz received an SOS and decided this group was the closest to answer the distress call.

No one is excited about this mission. Except for maybe Dylan who is concerned about her father who is among the team that sent out the SOS. Hearing where they are headed only freaks everyone out more. How is it even possible that they are drilling for corrarium there? The last time anyone was on Achyls, everyone died except for the child of two scientists. No one ever figured out what happened. Oh, and that child is now the scientist with the mysterious past. What happened back then? And why is Lisbeth so scared to return?

This one definitely has creepy vibes throughout. I was on the edge of my seat with suspense trying to figure out what was happening. In ways, I got 172 Hours on the Moon vibes. Although, that one spooked me way more. There are some things that still need explaining, but being that there is a sequel, I can’t speak on how much it all makes sense quite yet.

I will say that Erin Bowman has proved she has genre range. The last book I read from her was Vengeance Road which is very, very different from this.
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books305 followers
December 26, 2021
This is SUPER well-written, a sci-fi zombie story set in space where a rescue crew is sent to investigate a drill site that has sent a distress call. This site is located two MONTHS away by hyper-space, and they’re the closest crew, so you get a real sense of the isolation. It’s set on a barren, violent-weather-tortured rock and as soon as the crew gets there they can tell something is Not. Right.

The pacing is amazing, both the sense of suspense and “what the heck is going on here?” as the crew finds clues and throws out hypothesis, and then once things “come alive” and the chaos picks up. Totally creepy and awesome! And oh the twists. Oh the awesome science and cool plotting that has gone into it, and the nifty way the character backgrounds intersect. This was so great and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 23 books4,609 followers
May 28, 2017
CONTAGION perfectly toes the line between science fiction thriller and horror. I couldn't stop reading.
Profile Image for Tracy.
731 reviews12 followers
April 18, 2022
'Contagion' starts out as a tiny, unprepared crew is about to be sent into deep space for what is supposed to be a simple search-and-rescue mission. This, after an an urgent call for help has indicated a crew - on mission in deep space - needs immediate rescue for reasons which were not able to be transmitted. The assigned rescue crew is apprehensive about going on an assignment with so many unknowns. Upon arrival, they are horrified to find dead bodies everywhere. The team pleads with the captain to turn back - to no avail. Eventually, they come face to face with the cause - and, it rivals their worst nightmares. If only they turned around whey they had one last chance....
Proportionately mesmerizing, riveting, and horrifying, Erin Bowman's seamless convergence of horror and science fiction is spectacular.
Solo narrator Amy McFadden flawlessly brings the numerous characters to life without ever faltering from the nonstop twists in pace. Outstanding.
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
254 reviews164 followers
August 14, 2018
"Follow the bloody footprints, they said. What could go wrong, they said." Quite a lot apparently. 😂

4.25/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.25


Favorite Quotes:

"Numbers and data made sense, but people were impossible."

"Impossible is just an excuse not to try," Nova said. "You break it down into little steps, and then it becomes a bunch of things you can tackle. Possible things."


❇️Normally when I see "recommended for fans of-" blurbed, or mentioned while describing a new release I find that to be a huge turnoff, because half of the time my expectations are way too high, and I end up being disappointed, but this book is recommended for fans of Alien, and The Illuminae Files, and this time- I couldn't agree more!

❇️This was my first reading experience with Erin Bowman's work, and I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed! I loved her writing style, the characters, and the pacing of the overall story-line (which is just as important to me as the rest). ♡


❇️I can honestly say that I had no real issues with this book, however, as I am trying to be a more critical reader/reviewer, and this book didn't absolutely blow my mind, I'm giving it a 4 star rating instead of a 5 (which I normally would have, because I do see that there's room for improvement, this being the first book in the series).

Final Thoughts/Comments:

❇️The only downside to reading this book so quickly after it being released is that I have to wait god only knows how long for the sequel! After reading Contagion, I am definitely interested in picking up more of this authors work, and I cannot wait to see where she takes this story, and what happens to the characters I've come to love! ♡
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,670 reviews701 followers
July 10, 2018
I was insane with excitement when I read this synopsis as it has everything I love: mass infection and possible zombies. Sadly I was disappointed.

My main complaint about this book is the multiple POVs. There are several — more than what is necessary, in my opinion — and because of that, I didn’t get to know any of the characters. Everyone felt shallow. The minor details we did get wasn’t enough to make me root for anyone.

Plot wise it was okay. The first 40% or so of the story is dry and boring. It wasn’t until people started dying off that I was interested, and even then it was sort of a struggle. Eventually the action happens and there’s a few interesting reveals, but I was never captivated.

Overall, it was a set up I loved; however, it lacked the tension a story like this needs. I just found out it’s a series and I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the next one.

**Huge thanks to Harper Teen for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
542 reviews406 followers
May 8, 2022
reread in may 2022 because i'm finally getting the sequel


* excuse me, i have to pick my jaw off the floor
* every once in a while, I get fixated on a book that i just know is going to be amazing and I AM NEVER WRONG, because Contagion was one of these books and, to be quite frank, hoLY FUCK™
* listen here, if anyone ever asks you for a horror recommendation, you shove this book in their face and/or beat them with with
* THIS is how you write a space horror
* i finished this book in about 4 hours, because I could not and would not put it down
* it’s very fast paced, i was on the edge of my seat (okay, fine, i was actually laying in bed, being super comfy, but my spiRIT WAS SHOOKETH)
* scaryyyyy, suspenseful, good writing, great characters, my heart is happy
* the two leads are Thea, a Korean-Turkish intern, and Nova, a black & sapphic pilot with visual impairment, so bless us all


* it ends on a cliffhanger and my impatient ass doesn’t have the sequel lmao

YAY or NAY: i legitimately loved this book SO much


To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything :)
Profile Image for Adah Udechukwu.
606 reviews79 followers
August 3, 2018
I loved every moment of Contagion. I'm sure book 2 will be as great as book 1
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,668 reviews851 followers
January 20, 2021
#2) Immunity ★★★☆☆

Reread #1 (Dec 2020): ★★★★☆

remind me, why did i think reading about contagions during a real-life pandemic was a good idea

Original Read (Aug 2019): ★★★☆☆

when you think you rated a book five stars but goodreads says you gave it three stars 🤦‍♀️

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Thea (mc) Turkish-Korean; Nova (mc) brown, vision impaired (degenerative eye condition) & sapphic; Dylan (sc) sapphic & recovered addict; Lisbeth (sc) tremor in her hand; Sullivan (sc) POC.

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Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,975 reviews194 followers
July 18, 2019
Funtastic space horror, fun times, so many die, the bodies piled high. Intense action, mystery, and more dead bodies. Don't love any of them, they may be dead on the next page. You have been warned.
Seriously, this was a good read for me. I loved reading it, I even read it slow in bits because I needed to step back and reflect (relax) on what I just read. I ordered book 2 before I even finished this one.
Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews78 followers
October 29, 2018
3.5 stars...

I loved Bowan's other series so I was expecting to really like this one too. I tried several times though to listen to the audiobook and couldn't get into the narrator so I ended up just reading it. It was fairly entertaining once I finally got into it which actually happened when Coen came into the picture. He was definitely my favorite character of the bunch.

Even though this book didn't produce any overwhelming emotions or anything from me, I'm dying to read the next book just to find out what's going to happen with the survivors.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,985 reviews2,584 followers
August 5, 2018
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/08/04/...

Contagion by Erin Bowman stars the ragtag crew of the Odyssey, a mining ship that responds to an SOS at a seemingly deserted base on a remote planet. Led by their determined by green captain Dylan Lowe, the team immediately begins searching for survivors but instead find a pile of dead bodies. The ship’s doctor, microbiologist Dr. Lisbeth Tarlow appears baffled at the cause of all the death and carnage, but her seventeen-year-old intern Thea Sadik suspects her mentor may know more than she lets on.

Meanwhile, the Odyssey’s pilot Nova Singh struggles with her developing feelings for Dylan, even as the headstrong captain makes increasingly impulsive decisions that endanger her people. On the planet, the crew also finds a disturbing message along with a chilling video made by one of the personnel before he died. Not long afterwards, the group is separated and Thea’s life is saved by a mysterious young man who claims to be the only survivor. But who is he and where did he come from? How did he stay alive when no one else was spared by whatever killed them? Finding the answers becomes imperative as one of the Odyssey’s crew suddenly becomes infected with an unknown contagion, putting all of their lives at risk unless the outbreak can be contained.

As someone who has seen my fair share of sci-fi/horror movies, books, games, comics etc. featuring some variation of the space zombie, I have to say Contagion was pretty mediocre and only mildly entertaining. To be fair, it’s tough to write a book like this, precisely because it’s been done before…so many times before. Some authors attempt to spin the story a different way, or offer something unique as a hook. Personally, I love that. It’s what keeps me coming back to this genre. The problem here though, was I just didn’t see anything too special. Bowman’s a great writer, and certainly I would put her prose at a level above the typical YA novel, but truth be told, her atmosphere and suspense building could have been better, and any fan of horror will tell you, those two things are kind of a biggie.

That said, it’s clear the author wanted the strength of her novel to be in her characters. She’s populated Contagion with a diverse cast, who were for the most part interesting to read about. Where the story stumbles, however, is the narrative mode. Told in third-person omniscient, we are bounced between POVs to cover no less than half a dozen of the crew members when really there’s only a handful of characters readers are made to care about. The rest felt like distraction and served to weaken the character development as a whole. I want to say I liked the characters, but the reality is I didn’t feel like I got to know any of them too well, and no one really stood out as all that unique or special. Kind of like this book (even though it makes me feel crummy to say it).

The action is what drove much of the entertainment. Even then, the suspense was a bit muted because I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to feel the full emotional impact even when terrible stuff happened to them, but at least the story wasn’t boring. The world was also intriguing, though I have the feeling we’ve only scratched the surface. The hints of political intrigue and corporate conspiracies given here don’t play much into the plot, though I wish they had. The ending also closes on a rather blunt “to be continued”, so I assume much of the set-up here will be elaborated upon in the sequel.

Ultimately, I found Contagion to be a very middle-of-the-road read—entertaining enough, but nothing special to write home about. Still, despite my mixed feelings, I have not dismissed the possibility of continuing with the series, though I’ll probably wait to read a few reviews of the next book before making my decision.

Audiobook Comments: I think Amy McFadden did a great job narrating, but some books just beg for multiple narrators. Given the number of characters in Contagion and their different personalities and voices, the addition of more narrators here probably would have benefited the flow of the story and increased my interest, but overall I still enjoyed the listen.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,333 reviews1,824 followers
June 19, 2018
I was so so excited to dive into CONTAGION because I enjoyed Bowman's Vengeance Road series, so I was familiar with her writing, and I am so here for more good YA sci-fi. Throw in some horror and creep factor of a virus that has taken over a space station and the rescue crew hired to investigate? I'm trash for it.

But it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Why? Because half the characters are either dumb or unlikeable. I was more or less fine with the plot, it was at turns thrilling and eerie and full of action, but with maybe two exceptions I wanted to throw every character out of an airlock. And the problem is a few of them, for sure, are supposed to be unlikeable; stubborn, irresponsible, annoying, and, worse, unable to accept fault or admit error. And yet they still really dragged this experience down for me.

Also, I was surprised to discover this was not a standalone! I feel like when I added it to my tbr it didn't yet have a series indicator, though maybe it did and that's on me, but I was very taken aback when this ended so abruptly. Don't get me wrong it's a good, if a tiny bit predictable, ending (in the sense of where the characters are at, not what's happened to the characters themselves) and I will definitely read on because the part that makes this spooky has some totally awesome elements at play and I loved how visual Bowman's descriptions could be. You could totally picture this in your head.

If you liked the spooky factor that was present in GEMINA, but liked the sorta-evil corporation politics of the Starbound trilogy, I think you'll like CONTAGION.

3.25 "follow the bloody footprints, they said. what could go wrong, they said" stars

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
404 reviews50 followers
July 30, 2021
Overall Rating : B+

"No one will get off this planet if you are not ruthless about the protection of your own life.


If you're a scaredy-cat that loves being terrified, then this is the book for you!

A missing crew, a rescue mission gone wrong, dangerous creatures that want to kill you, and not to mention ignorant captains and people withholding life-saving information. Contagion has it all. Not to mention this whole fiasco last less than days.

The writing was a little stilting in places, a little dry, especially when the characters had an inner monologue, but the horror really made up for it.

There are eight characters that are apart of this story. I won't spoil anything, but let's just say not everybody is going to make it out alive. And that's exactly what I want in a scary story. It's no fun if it ends in a happily ever after ;) More gore than normal for a regular YA novel so if your pretty squeamish, it'll get pretty dicey.

Major cliffhanger at the end so if you read this book, make sure you're able to grab the second one quick to see how the hell it could possibly get any worse.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,449 reviews2,319 followers
November 9, 2018
Contagion by Erin Bowman is an audible book I picked up from the library. I fell in love with this intriguing take right away. I like a good mystery mixed with my science fiction, throw in a deadly unknown killing factor, people who may not be what or who they say they are, crooked business or governments, and lots of suspense and that is my mind of book! This is all that and more!
The narration complements the book perfectly too! Really made the book that much better! Tremendous job one voices, emotions, timing, well..everything!
Can't wait for the next book!
Profile Image for 7jane.
671 reviews251 followers
July 19, 2020
The Black Quarry base, on a remote planet Achlys, has sent a distress message, and a skeleton crew barely out of surviving a storm on a frozen planet is sent immediately towards it. But on arrival there seems at first to be no survivors... as they try to figure out what happened while waiting for a backup, a threat rises from below, putting everyone in danger.

This reminds me a bit of the second Alien movie, though only in certain details (young people being sole survivors of a disastrous event, bad-weather planet (cold one here), cryostasis as travel help, the alien evil (though not a face-hugger kind), and sinister plans . When I thought of what Toby would look like, I thought he would look something like the company representative in this movie, who comes along with the crew on their investigation of the colony.

Since this is a YA novel, the two main characters are Thea, an orphan intern, and the latest . The plot moves very quickly - they are on the planet only a certain amount of hours - so there's no lulls which is nice. However it feels typical that what's going on between the pilot and the captain of the crew ends up being . But their tensions adds something to this book's urgency, almost to the last moments.

I was a bit surprised by the secrets of Dr Tarlow, which are partly understandable, partly foolish, but I can see why she would do what she did. Everyone in this book seems to have made, make, some foolish choices which either destroy or save them. The dangerous thing that caused all the problems was interesting, and fun to read about. While the book ends in a cliffhanger, a bit of the next book was added to the end of my book, which eased some of the ending itch while making me want to read what's next. A smooth read, and quite enjoyable - certainly want to continue on with the next one.
Profile Image for Erin.
664 reviews7 followers
May 2, 2020
From the very moment I laid eyes on the premise of this story, I knew it was going to be a good read! A mixture of horror and spacey sci-fi was just what I was looking for, and in return, I got a whole lot more than I initially anticipated.

Contagion starts with a bang and keeps going with a quick and unrelenting pace right up until the finale! It is non-stop action from the get go, and even the slower moments are just a way to pause before building up the thrill and suspense again.

Very easy to read; great characters; practically consumed it in one sitting!

And that ending!

Literally cannot wait to read the sequel!
Profile Image for Hilly.
684 reviews1,216 followers
Shelved as 'dnf-zone'
March 10, 2019
DNF 11% | 09/03/19

This is my third dnf of the month and I don’t know if I should worry about a reading slump coming or if it’s just bad luck in picking books to read.

This was just not for me. The first bit (prologue?) grabbed my attention, but 2 pages into the real first chapter I realized already that I didn’t like the writing style. But I kept going. Some pages after that I noticed the confusing and sudden switching of points of view, of which I learned there are a freaking lot. Though, the killing blow for my enthusiasm were the tedious bits of dialogue of the characters arguing between each other. Those arguments are apparently there to introduce the reader to the world building but they only managed to confuse me. I don’t know if it’s my ignorance when it comes to heavier than scape opera sci-fi, but I felt like I was thrown in the middle of the world building without something to hang on, and I didn’t enjoy that.
Profile Image for Alaina.
5,910 reviews216 followers
October 9, 2019

Contagion was so freaking good! I've been wanting to read this for a while so when I got the chance to get the audio - I didn't hesitate one freaking bit! It was so good guys! I can't believe I waited so long to dive into it.

I will admit thought that beginning was a little rough patch for me. With all the info dumping and ya know.. being bored out of mind - I almost pressed paused and dove into another book. YET, I didn't because I was lazy and had no idea what I wanted to do at that exact moment. So I stuck with it (because again I was lazy). THANKFULLY, I did because it got so much better!

Heck, anything with diseases, murders, or mysteries has me intrigued. I was in it for the long haul guys. Now audios are a bit different than a regular book. It's obviously a lot easier to figure out you are reading a different pov than listening to one. Sometimes when you are in the zone (at work or life) voices start to blend/blur together. It did for me unfortunately so it was a smidge hard for me to figure out who the hell was speaking.

Again, I was still in it for the long haul guys. I wasn't raised to be quitter so I pushed through this. Besides all of that, there are a few things I want more of: LGBTQ+ representation, better flow throughout the book, more character development, and more kick ass leads please!

Overall, this book gave me a cliffhanger and I hate those. Despise them with my whole body and that's why I really need to know what the hell is going to happen in the next one!
Profile Image for Amanda.
508 reviews1,085 followers
December 12, 2018
As I was reading Contagion I kept thinking that this would make a much more interesting movie than it does a book. It feels very much like a horror movie you would see on the big screen. It has space ships, a distant inhospitable planet, zombies, and dumb characters with no damn sense. Reading this story rather than watching it made it harder to follow. I’m not really making sense here. The point I’m trying to make is that this is an incredibly visual story so telling it without visuals doesn’t help the story become any better.

Speaking of dumb characters… It was a bit astounding how willfully dumb these people could be. For example, if you see a mountain of dead bodies your first thought should be to get away from it not “let’s go poke it and see what happens.” Seeing them continually ignore facts and blatant red flags left me feeling like there general vibe was this:


I don’t feel like I ever really got to know the characters. There was effort made in the character development but I think the issue was that there were too many characters and too many perspectives used to tell the story. I think if maybe we whittled that narrator count down to one with highlights from the second, it could have been more dynamic. I understand the need for multiple perspectives because often times the characters are separated and multiple events are happening simultaneously. However, that approach may work better for a cinematic setting more so that a literary one.

Also, it’s strange that it’s being marketed as a YA novel. It can be read by teens and I’m sure they would enjoy it. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens since overall the story is fairly terrifying and much of content is graphically violent and gory. Further, almost all of the characters in Contagion are adults and only two of them are 17. It felt a bit more like an adult book that got a bit diluted so it could spread its appeal to a wider age range for its audience. I think it could have gone that extra step and made it an “adult” novel and it would have been excellent.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,240 reviews219 followers
June 4, 2019
An exceptionally derivative science fiction horror story.

On the distant planet of Achlys the Black Quarry mining crew has sent an SOS which is received by its parent company. Odyssey, a small ship and crew, is sent to investigate with larger backup not far behind. When the ship gets to Achlys, it becomes apparent that there's been a disaster at the Black Quarry site, on the huge research ship Celestial Envoy and the rest of the planet. The team do find a survivor, but only shortly after finding a message saying "don't trust the boy". The story follows the ship's new pilot Nova Singh and protege of the ship's captain Dylan Lowe, and Thea Sadik, an intern to the ship's resident microbiologist Dr. Lisbeth Tarlow.

So this is a sort of mashup of Alien and early Expanse novels, with space zombies and sinister forces trying to exploit the cause of the space zombies while a plucky crew try and stay alive in the middle of it all. There's not a lot more than that, other than some fairly complex relationships between the people mentioned above, the survivor of the original mining crew and their history with the planet itself.

As a prologue for the next book, it works well, but as a standalone, I think it's strictly inferior to everything its riffing off.
Profile Image for Gigi.
366 reviews14 followers
September 17, 2019
4.5 stars (rounded up)

This was like Guardians Of The Galaxy meets The Walking Dead. Except everyone on the ship is human.

I'm a newbie to reading Sci-Fi and after the last 2 tragic DNF's (The Luminous Dead & Aurora Rising), I was starting to lose faith in the genre. But this..It kept me up all hours of the night reading!

I really enjoyed the alternating timelines and POV's. The last 30% of the book was an intense ride. I had the same adrenaline rush as when I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The Characters

That's all I'm going to say about him.


You know that annoying character in every slasher/horror flick, that you just wanna punch in the face? Well for me, that was her.

I'd have to say Thea and Coen were my favourite characters. I'm excited to see where they take us in the next book (Immunity).

Overall, I loved this story. It felt like I was watching a Blockbuster hit with everything I was looking for: great storyline and cast, action with a hint of flirtation.

If you enjoyed Illuminae and season 1 of The Walking Dead, then I think you'll enjoy this one!
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