Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2020! "A terrifying tour de force." --James Rollins "Readers will be riveted." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) Sally Jansen was NASA's leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she lives in quiet anonymity, convinced her days in space are over. She's wrong. A large alien object has entered the solar system on a straight course toward Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate. Out of time and out of options, NASA turns to Jansen. But as the object reveals its secrets, Jansen and her crew find themselves in a desperate struggle for survival -- against the cold vacuum of space, and something far, far worse... "Breathless, compulsive reading." --Christopher Golden "A suspenseful, fast-paced story of first contact." -- Kirkus
David Wellington is a contemporary American horror author, best known for his Zombie trilogy as well as his Vampire series and Werewolf series. His books have been translated into eleven langauges and are a global phenomenon.
His career began in 2004 when he started serializing his horror fiction online, posting short chapters of a novel three times a week on a friend’s blog. Response to the project was so great that in 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press approached David Wellington about publishing Monster Island as a print book. His novels have been featured in Rue Morgue, Fangoria, and the New York Times.
He also made his debut as a comic book writer in 2009 with Marvel Zombies Return:Iron Man.
Wellington attended Syracuse University and received an MFA in creative writing from Penn State. He also holds a masters degree in Library Science from Pratt Institute.
He now lives in New York City with his dog Mary Shelley and wife Elisabeth who, in her wedding vows, promised to “kick serious zombie ass” for him.
When a large alien object is observed hurtling towards Earth, seemingly under its own propulsion, NASA quickly assembles a team to try to intercept it.
The object, which appears to be a spaceship, dubbed 2I, is unresponsive to all attempts at communication, so the experts figure, they'll get a little closer.
What could go wrong?
Sally Jansen, a former NASA astronaut, has been living a quiet life since a failed expedition to Mars left a fellow astronaut dead. Seeing she is the only individual left with a certain set of skills, Sally is called upon to lead the mission to investigate 2I.
Jansen is not necessarily eager to answer NASA's call, but she understands this could be her only hope for salvation, so she agrees to help.
The other members selected for the mission include Parminder Rao, an astrobiologist, Sunny Stevens, an astrophysicist and Windson Hawkins, a military pilot.
Jansen is the only one among them to have old-school astronaut training and experience. She's the glue holding the hodge-podge team together.
Jansen and her team learn that a private-sector company, KSpace, has already sent a shuttle, the Wanderer, to 2I and beat NASA to the punch. Their team has already boarded the mystery craft, thus making official first contact.
When the NASA team tries to contact the individuals from the Wanderer, however, no one responds. Thus, Jansen and her team board 2I to investigate.
2I is an enormous space craft. A looming hulk of unknown machinery that functions in complete and utter darkness. Their only source of light, that which they bring with them on their suits.
The truth of 2I was NOT AT ALL what I expected. It flipped my idea of what I thought this first contact would be on its head. It is so gruesome and all-encompassing, I thought there is no way any person is getting out of this alive.
Wellington did a fantastic job of creating a constant feeling of tension with this story. You were always waiting for something to pop out of the dark.
It felt terrifying, even when not a lot was happening. There's something about the vastness, darkness, silence and isolation of being in deep space that legit freaks me the f* out. Adding in the terror of this alien craft, it really took it to the next level.
I had a lot of fun reading this. It's a solid Scifi Horror! I definitely recommend for it people who enjoy the genre. Well done!
THE LAST ASTRONAUT took all my thoughts about "First Contact", (I'm a Trekkie), and turned them on their heads.
This book deserves a better review than I have time available to give right now, so I must keep it brief.
This was science fiction with a bit of humor and a big bunch of tension. It was fast-paced, with well drawn, deep and fascinating characters. I especially loved Sally Jansen. This woman was one of the bravest characters I've ever read about it. She wasn't perfect and everyone knew it, which is what I think made her so special to me.
I'm a bit of a space nerd, so all the science was fun and interesting to me. The situation into which these astronauts were placed was such a tough one the odds were heavy on their failure. Being that this year is the 50th anniversary of our landing on the moon, my respect has risen for all those who ever took that chance in real life, whether or not they made it. They are all winners to me, the real men and women, and those in this book.
All I can say is that I'm so glad I'm friends with readers who read and appreciated this book. If it were not for all of their rave reviews, I'm sure THE LAST ASTRONAUT would have passed under my radar. Thanks to all of you guys, you know who you are.
My highest recommendation!
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
I liked this book a great deal. Great concept and execution. There is never a dull moment, (with one exception). The author did an excellent job getting across the enormity of space and how it is so difficult to survive out there. I also found my mind getting stretched with many concepts I don't normally think about. The characters are well drawn. I would have given this book five stars had the style been more intimate, a voice that was closer third person or even first person alternating third. Also, I think part of the issue for me was the constant shifting points of view within the same scene it made it a little rougher than it should have. It makes for great story telling but the sacrifice was staying with one character long enough to cheer for them. Absolutely the loved the concept of the book, (again, I try to stay away from giving the story away in my reviews). Another way this book would have rated five stars was if it was more cerebral in what they found in the alien ship (more like Asimov). Don't get me wrong I loved the concept and the way it played out but it did take that one giant step close to the edge of horror and it teetered on that edge. I think the author d welled too long once inside the ship, in the odyssey through the obstacles. Wonderful imagery and creativity but it went on too long. The wrap up was very satisfying--Well done. I am definitely going to recommend this book to the scifi writers in our writers group and will be first in line to buy this author's next book. David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson series.
David Wellington may be one of the few author's who I would allow to take me into space. I love science fiction in movies and television. In books, eh, not so much! If I have to imagine it, then I guarantee that I will manage to scare the crap outta myself! This book wasn't near as terrifying as I expected. But, this story had heart. Also, the 👽 alien, " s"? was completely unexpected and downright scary without having to have blood and guts. Also, yes there is indeed blood and guts "of a kind!" This is a book I'm happy to have read. My thanks to Orbit publishing, Netgalley and Mr. Wellington. Highly recommended! P.S. That ending...
Hoo boy, this one soured faster than lactobacilli in a petri dish!
At first I enjoyed the fast-paced, cinematic style where some of the plot was moved forward by recordings of interviews with people relaying what was or had been going on. On audio it was at times confusing, though, because we follow many different voices who all sounded alike (despite the female narrator’s attempt at deep, growling men’s voices, which never does anyone any favors). It would have benefited from a full cast.
Anyway, it quickly became apparent that these characters, trained pilots, astronauts and scientists are absolute idiots and unable to perform the simplest requirements of their jobs. The doctor freezes up in shock at the sight of injury, the pilot forgets her seat belt and throws tantrum after tantrum when given orders, the physicist keeps making assumptions about literally everything, inferring this or that about the alien ship without any kind of testing or proof to back up anything, only to have her actually say the words that she’s always careful not to jump to conclusions, right after having jumped to a conclusion she tells us she couldn’t prove. I was crying with laughter at the irony by then, or perhaps just crying in general over the complete lack of professionalism these characters exhibit.
The whole book relies heavily on someone doing something unlikely and stupid to create suspense, like the countless of catastrophe scifi horrors Hollywood loves to bless the movie theaters with and which you need the largest Coke and bag of popcorn to get through just so you can survive the cast of incompetent characters spending most of the time yelling and arguing with each other in panic instead of doing what they are THERE TO DO.
By the end I simply lost any interest in this alien first contact story to the point where I had to rewind ten times to hear the same passage over and over because my brain had simply disconnected any signal from my ears, refusing to absorb more of this nonsense.
And just when you think it couldn’t get more ridiculous the book throws such a meta reference at you that I wonder if perhaps the whole thing was meant as a joke from the author??? I guess I will never know.
Ahoy there mateys! Unpopular opinion time. This book has been described as Gravity, Alien, and The Martian combined. I should have loved this one but only managed to make it to the 4% mark. I was struggling with the narration style from the beginning. This is certainly a case of wrong book for this particular reader. But give it a shot if it sounds good to ye because the crew loves this one!
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for me honest musings. Grateful for the review copy. So sorry that it didn't work out for me.
Written in the form of a post-event investigation which includes transcribed audio 'confessionals', video records, assorted information excerpts, and multiple POVs, this is a book that presents First Contact through a vividly personal lens. It aims for reality and for the most part, succeeds. This style keeps it high energy and pacey as hell, for a time at least. The opening section and initial stages were really well done, full of fear and disaster. The whole experience feels like every nightmare you've ever had of space, and that's both its strength and its weakness. It means that when it's done well, your own trepidation and horror builds on what's in the text to produce an anxiety-inducing, stomach roiling, 'thank f**k I'm not there' kind of reaction. Not only is there a close proximity issue that forms the baseline for how awful things can be, then the tension is ramped up with outrageously gut wrenching moments of sheer terror. There's one particular medical bay moment of Alien-esque proportions that stressed me to the max. So much NOPE. I don't know about you but whatever happens to this planet and regardless of tech improvements, I'm not going to space. And this book is a perfect example of why. The familiarity of this emotional reaction is what invests the reader in the story and even if we've read it/seen it before, who cares if it's fun? But the problem with that is when the engagement goes away, the tick box tropes and lack of originality become all the more glaring.
Just over halfway through something goes wrong. Lots for the characters, even more for the reader. It became a slog and I'm not entirely sure why. It certainly lost its vivacity and impetus. Perhaps because there's an over reliance on description- yes, it's cool to create an alien spacecraft and I know you want to tell people about every aspect of it, but it's still not as important as the characters, who suddenly become much more like stereotypical versions of themselves. On top of that, it all gets just a bit far-fetched. Yes, I'm really going to use that word. The ending is so contrived that its way too far beyond credulity. When an event or scene is supposed to raise a hearty cheer for humanity and instead gets an eye roll, you know it's a miss. And that's a real shame, because there are some stunningly imaginative sections. I'd certainly read the author again, but this didn't really work that well for me by the end.
This was good! A nice blend of first contact, exploration, and horror. No jump scares, but there were some scenes where I found myself “eeeeww”-ing from the sheer awfulness the characters were faced with, and liking the tension as the characters made their way through the big, dumb object. The interpersonal dynamics were interesting, though I found it a little predictable who was going to become super paranoid and violent with each new setback/revelation. And the ending was oddly fitting, both creepy and a nice wrap-up to Sally Jansen’s dream.
Hmmm. So all my reading buddies loved this, but I didn't feel...much, really, about it.
The premise is cool, the writing is competent, and there is action pretty much throughout. In fact, this is essentially what I thought about another book I read recently, The Stars Now Unclaimed. But I had the same problem with this book that I had with that one, that is, the story is just not character driven enough for my personal taste.
It's not a bad book, and I know lots of people will love it, but it's just not so much what I'm interested in reading these days.
This is a superb SF Horror book that's aware of what has gone before it in both genres, takes what it needs, but comes up with its own clever take on it all. Think Rendezvous with Rama and Life with healthy does of Alien and any number of astronaut books and movies.
Twenty years ago astronaut Sally Jansen was the central figure in a horrible space accident during the first mission to Mars that was the beginning of the end for the NASA crewed space program. Now, an object similar to Oumuamua, except that it's decelerating. With little time to prepare and no crewed spaceflight in years, NASA turns to the only experienced astronaut they have left and a small crew of experts to try and make contact with alien visitor.
This one has it all. The ultimate dark cavern haunted by ghosts (a rival team that got there first) and monsters of unknown type and intent. All of which takes the flawed characters that form the NASA mission and amps up all their anxieties, all while trying to work out if the visitor is friendly, hostile, indifferent or just too alien to imagine. The pressure ratchets up unrelentingly to an absolutely brilliant conclusion.
Highly recommended. It would also make a terrific movie.
Ground Control to Major T…………OMG, WHAT IS THAT THING????
Lol – so, I admit it. When I started reading this book, the background music in my mind was totally Ground Control to Major Tom. I was digging our space scenes, marveling at the amount of detail and danger that the author put into his book, and, even with some tragic scenes, kind of in a state of zen-enjoyment.
And then. Oh, and then…
The background music changed. Instead of David Bowie, I heard creaks and groans and drips and screams and that eerie silence that comes when you know SOMETHING IS GOING TO GET YOU!
I loved this. Every moment of it. I’ve already recommended it to a bunch of people and I want it to be a movie – not starring Sigourney Weaver, but I’d like her to have a cameo in it.
An amazing mix of hard science, action, and pure adrenaline SF.
I devoured this book, probably one of the most addictive of my year so far, apart from a break when I had to work it was a one sitting read. Once you start you just have to get to the end. I do love a good first contact tale and this one was a doozy- fast paced action, twists and turns, hugely imaginative throughout and utterly unpredictable. The scene setting is superb, the characters all intriguing and it’s one of those stories you just live the entire time you are reading it. The science is utterly believable, the human aspects all gripping and overall it’s a pure adrenalin rush of a read with a pitch perfect resonant ending. Very clever. Brilliant. Highly Recommended.
The Last Astronaut doesn’t waste too much time getting to the heart of the issue, which I loved. it maintained a pretty quick pace throughout the book, alternating between bouts of action and bouts of discoveries about this alien object. The setting and tone are consistently dark, grim, desolate, and lonely. The image of lights on a space suit cutting through a misty darkness were used repeatedly, which is perfect for this kind of book.
Which is why it baffles me that I didn’t love it more than I did? Unfortunately, and this could just be the mood I was in, I found it really easy to pick this book up, but I also found it really easy to put the book down. I never dreaded picking it up again, and I definitely wanted to finish, but I wish it had compelled me a little more, kept me up late at night because I just had to see what happened next. I will say the last 25% had me glued to the page so it ends much stronger than it started.
If I had to pinpoint where I struggled with this book I can point to two factors, one of which is a spoiler, but the other of which is the characters. I did like all of them, but I think the character I connected to most, Sunny Stevens, the guy who kick starts the whole book, is absent from the 2nd half. He is the comic relief, he is the character that feels most alive to me. All the other characters are serious, grim types. Which is fine- most scientists probably are that way, but I really needed his jolt of personality to keep me caring about the events of the book. The other characters all feel human enough, I wouldn’t say any of them feel shallow or flat, but they just weren’t characters I connected to. Your mileage may vary.
The writing is great. Descriptive enough to give you the idea and convey the tone without lingering too long on it or slowing down the pace. The length also feels just right. At 400 pages, we’re given just what is needed to tell the story, it’s not bloated but it doesn’t feel like any details were left out either.
The format of the book is that we are reading an in-world book that has been written about these events after they have happened. It’s interspersed with little side snippets of what I thought of as confessions or transcripts from the characters themselves talking to (who I presume) is NASA. I personally enjoyed the format, and it definitely added a layer of impending doom to many of the scenes, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
The ending is perfect, and I won’t lie, it made me tear up a little. Overall a good read that’s well worth checking out if you like a good alien, sci-fi horror mash up. Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit for providing me with an eARC for review.
The Last Astronaut, a science fiction book, was a solid 4 stars. With a large cast of characters, The Last Astronaut centers around main character Sally Jansen, a retired astronaut that left NASA after disastrous mission. Sally is pulled out of retirement to lead an expedition when a large object is discovered to be heading towards Earth. This isn’t just any large object-it’s “behavior” is unlike any other, showing signs of possible intelligence. Terrifying and creepy stuff that science fiction fans will absolutely love! The Last Astronaut is a fast-pace and addictive book that is perfect for readers that enjoy science fiction and action books. Thank you NetGalley for proving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Very cinematic scifi/horror story that will keep you turning the pages :O)
I’m not exactly a fan of horror but I do like it in this context. The beginning reminded me immediately of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series. A huge ‘object’ is flying into our solar system and steering towards Earth. All the usual questions abound. Going through the narrative, I couldn’t stop making parallels with several films and books, but Wellington, while using those recognisable tropes, still puts together something new and thrilling.
For years there has been a moratorium on manned space flight, and Sally Jensen can’t help but feel she’s responsible, after a decision of hers led to the death of crew mate on her last mission. It didn’t matter that her quick thinking also saved lives, the space programs of the world decided that it was too great a risk. But now, a mysterious object has been sighted entering our solar system, slowing makings its way towards Earth. No one knows what it is or what it wants, but everyone wants to find out whether it will be a threat to the planet. Scrambling to put together a team to investigate, NASA seeks out the now retired Jensen because no other astronaut has the wealth of knowledge and experience that she does.
But NASA isn’t the only ones interested in what might be humanity’s first alien contact. KSpace, a private sector aerospace company, also wants in on the action. This means that Jensen only has mere months to get ready for the mission of a lifetime, making the most out of her limited resources and an inexperienced crew that she hardly knows. Everyone has also heard about the ignominious way her career ended, so she’s determined to prove herself and not let any harm come to her people. Unfortunately for her though, the aliens didn’t get the memo. Immediately upon reaching the mysterious object, Jensen and her team realize just how unprepared they all were to handle what they find inside.
For readers who love movies like Alien or The Thing, The Last Astronaut will likely scratch a particular itch. David Wellington is also a well-known horror writer, so it’s not surprising that after a while the story takes a sudden and drastic turn down this path. If you’re seeking a more traditional tale of alien first contact, this book might not be for you, but on the other hand, readers looking for a skin-crawling, claustrophobic and eerie journey through some psychologically dark and disturbing places will probably want to check this one out. Stepping into unknown territory, the characters will encounter sights both strange and nightmarish, some of which have clear signs of influence from sci-fi horror cinema.
I also enjoyed the way this story was structured, with Wellington going for a rather cheeky approach to its presentation. Namely, he has injected himself into the book, playing the role of dutiful chronicler writing about Jensen’s mission as if it has actually happened, hence why we sometimes get the occasional “interruption” from a few of the characters themselves, wishing to expand upon something in the writing or to clarify a point. It was a little distracting at first (especially when you’re doing this book in audio) and admittedly I think these brief snippets took a bit away from the horror tone and atmosphere. However, after a while I grew used to them, and even started to appreciate the levity they added.
For all the efforts put into developing this story and the characters though, ultimately this was a pretty superficial novel. That said, I wouldn’t say I was too disappointed, considering how everything I got out of it was in line with my expectations. Still, I wouldn’t have minded seeing more character development, getting more a feeling that their lives and motivations mattered. Like a TV movie, The Last Astronaut delivered the entertainment and thrills, which was great because it was what I wanted, but there was also potential for it to be so much more.
Bottom line, I think The Last Astronaut just missed its mark to be truly great, but it was still a very compulsive read which employed some unique narrative devices and interesting ideas. The overall atmosphere was delicious, and I found parts of quite immersive and at times downright terrifying. Nothing too earthshattering, but it’s a good choice if you’re lookina sci-fi novel with a strong undercurrent of macabre horror.
Audiobook Comments: Smoothly narrated by Megan Tusing, the audiobook of The Last Astronaut was pretty awesome to listen to, especially with all the creative sound effects. At times, some of these were a little intrusive, breaking my concentration, but in general they made for an immersive audio experience.
I’m absolutely delighted to be the first person reviewing this book, because it’s awesome and I’ve got great things to say about it. Wellington first came to my attention with his Monster Island trilogy, one of the first zombie books I’ve read and a great story in itself. I mean I still remember the twist from it, that says a lot. But actually my preference has always been toward standalones. When his latest appeared on Netgalley, I requested it without even reading the plot summary. I figured this guy has got the chops to tell a good astronaut story and I was right. The eponymous space adventurer is Sally Jansen, the woman who almost singlehandedly put NASA…well, not out of business, but certainly operating in reduced dimensions. Space voyaging is finicky business…one disastrous mission and it’s all over. All Sally wanted was to go to Mars, but a technical glitch resulted in a horrific (and televised) death of another astronaut and that was that. No one wants that sort of publicity, no one can get funding with that kind of publicity. Sally Jansen retired from NASA and NASA retired from active space ventures, concentrating instead on the theoretical studies, satellites, etc. The active duties have been taken over by private companies, such as KSpace. 21 years pass and suddenly a large object is discovered on a collision course with Earth and the twist is that it doesn’t behave like a mindless celestial body, it’s decelerating on its own accord, which shows intelligence. Terrifying, isn’t it. Well, that’s nothing. The real terror begins a hastily put together mission sets of to investigate. And who best to lead to team than the last person to have done so years ago…enter the last astronaut. KSpace, of course, also sends a ship. Now there are two teams trying to figure out an alien craft unlike any they might have imagined or tried to understand before. This is where earth logic fails. This is where nightmares begin. This is a story of First Contact like no other. And it’s fun, oh so much fun. Very heavily laced with technology and logistics, often to a weighing down effect, this novel is rendered with such meticulous detail that it makes for a fairly slow read, but what it offers in exchange is a completely immersive reading experience. An exchange well worth it. It reads not just with cinematic vividness, but almost like…well, like a virtual reality experience if there was technology available to do so realistically. The alien ship and its forbidding darkness and terrifying secrets are executed with haunting stark realism. It’s very, very difficult to put this book down. The characters will engage you too, especially Sally, who gets a strangely appropriate ending tribute, but the writing and descriptions are what will draw you in and have you glued for the duration and looking up cautiously in the night sky afterwards. What an awesome space adventure. Recommended for all fans of science fiction. Thanks Netgalley.
3.0 Stars Video Review: https://youtu.be/XNus6NoO50k This is the kind of story that would make a fantastic movie. While reading this novel, I kept envisioning the plot as a blockbuster movie with amazing cinematography. The story was fast paced and action packed with a few rather gory scenes that would be visually stunning on the big screen. I would not be surprised if this novel gets adapted in the future.
Unfortunately, the elements that make for an amazing film experience don’t necessarily work as well on the page. The characters and plot were a bit cliche in places and story took a while to get going. I didn’t become invested in the story until around 150 pages, over 40% into the novel. However, once the main storyline got started, I was pulled in and wanted to know what was going to happen.
One of the best aspects of this novel was the suspense. The author created a good sense of dread as the group of astronauts attempted to make first contact. As a horror writer, Wellington brought elements on that genre into this story. There were some great descriptions of some rather gruesome settings which I personally quite enjoyed.
Within the novel, the author interjected some interviews with fictional professionals who shared their perspectives on the mission. Those sections were a bit meta, but I personally didn't care for them. I just didn't feel like they added anything to the story.
As far as science fiction goes, I think this one was quite accessible to readers who don’t normally read the genre. Set in the near future, the technology and world building were familiar and easy to understand.
So if you enjoy near future science fiction stories with plenty of action and a little gore, then you may want to check out this one for yourself.
Disclaimer: I requested a copy from the publisher, Orbit Books.
This book takes all of your preconceived notions about aliens and first contact and throws them right out the window. That's one of the reasons I liked it so much; you never knew what to expect and the author kept you on your toes and guessing throughout the entire mission. It also made me reevaluate my thoughts on our vast universe.
*I received this ARC from Goodreads Firstreads in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
When a horrific incident scrapped her mission to Mars and turned her into the women who lost the second space race, Sally Janson never expected she'd return to space. Until a mysterious object brings NASA back into the forefront of importance and Sally back into a job—because she's the only person on Earth with the skills necessary to lead a mission to a potentially alien spacecraft.
I wasn't expecting this to be straight up horror, but that's exactly what it is. Think Annihilation with a little bit of the creepy shit that happens in The Luminous Dead and some of the danger of Gravity, and you've got this book.
First contact was scary, thrilling and I didn't want to put this down even though I was exhausted and knew it was probably going to give me nightmares (it did).
While I felt like a lot of the characters were bland stereotypes, it was engaging and entertaining. Sally Jansen was...okay? I was kinda curious why her name was Sally, since she would have been born around 2010 and who the hell names their child Sally in 2010 (it hasn't cracked the top 1000 in 15 years)?? I dunno. It seemed weird. Okay, I get maybe it's an homage to Sally Ride but still. The rest of the cast is kinda forgettable, which isn't helped by the fact that it's told with a lot of secondhand afterwards.
I know, I'm being very nitpicky. But names and characterizations aside, this was thrilling and engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Well, at least I got this for free. Hmm. Okay. Let's see. Trope galore. It has a cinematic feel, but plot wise, a Scifi-horror B movie. However, the thing that irked me was the characters being stupid too many times.
Yet, the world building intrigued me a bit. What would happen if NASA stops sending people to space and let the corporations take the lead in explorations? There should be some exciting plots that could come out from that.
The Last Astronaut started off well and I thought this would be a sure 3 or 4 star book; after all, it combined my two favorite genres (horror and science fiction). Yet, I became more and more disenchanted as the book went on and just about tossed it across the room at the end.
This is set in the relatively near future, around 2055 or so, and after a crewed mission to Mars failed in the 2030s, NASA has basically pulled out of the space game, leaving it to private corporations. The Orion Mars mission was led by Sally Jansen, our main protagonist. En route to Mars, Jansen and crew investigated some 'red lights' on the landing module and found a micrometeorite puncture in a fuel tank; unfortunately, the fuel leaked into the landing module and when her crew mate got there, he caught on fire and Sally was forced to jettison the module to save the rest of the ship.
When the story starts, Sally is working scuba off the coast of Florida, still haunted by the death of her crew mate and she still fells responsible for it. Meanwhile, an astronomer has discovered an object heading to Earth under its own propulsion. Looks like we are going to have first contact! So, NASA dusts off an old Orion spaceship and puts a crew together in a hurry to met the BDO in space; a space corporation also launches a ship, so we have two missions to meet the alien craft. Once again, Sally is the MC of a NASA ship!
It was about this point in the story when I started to get annoyed with the book. First, one of the crew members on the NASA ship always wanted to be an astronaut (fine) but once NASA basically folded, she was working a desk at the JPL. Nonetheless, Wellington tells us she read 'all the classics' of science fiction, citing Clarke, Asimov and Leckie. Yes, this is set in the near future, but of all the science fiction giants why did Wellington choose Leckie here? Was he hoping for a cover blurb? I have nothing against Leckie's work, but to include her in the same breath as Clarke and Asimov? I can think of dozens of authors that would be more appropriate.
Secondly, the narrative style really started to grate as well. The Last Astronaut is presented as a revised version of a book that originally chronicled the mission to meet the alien ship. Each chapter starts with a little blurb where the survivors told their memories of various events. Ok, but from this we know who is going to survive from the get go! It works as bad foreshadowing at best. Granted, it is a somewhat novel literary motif but few authors seem to be able to pull it off well and it really kinda ruins the suspense of the text. We know who will make it and hence we just have to wait for the others to get offed one way or another.
Third, the Alien vessel was intriguing and mysterious at first, but when its mystery was finally 'solved', I was more than disappointed. Such improbable science! Finally, Jansen's character is terrible. It seems poor Sally still blames herself for 'losing' a crew member on the Mars voyage, even though a. he was already going to die from the fire, and b. she had to jettison the module to save the rest of the crew. Nonetheless, this guilt motivates almost all of her actions about the alien ship. It just got tiring hearing about it over and over, and how much it still drives Sally's actions.
So, in the end, this rapidly declined from a 3 or 4 star read to barely a one at the end. I will give it two stars as a compromise. Definite Meh!
The best thing about this book was the cover art, which I am going to say, was really well done. As well as the blurb on the back cover. These two things sold this book to me without me having to think twice.
Once the book started though, the knock-off tropes and blatant rip-off of ideas was just too much.
It also goes off the rails about halfway in. Like "Sunshine" off the rails. And not just off the rails, but off the rails like "Alien" and "Event Horizon". The second half of the book is absolute straight horror, and not enjoyable horror either. None of the suspense of a Stephen King and none of the sheer terror of "Alien". Just gross.
Also, there is the obligatory "black goo" that eats through the suits. The tentacles that wrap around people and kill them, and of course, indescribable creatures that are spawned out of gelatonous eggs hanging on the ceiling. Sound like anything familiar?
Additionally, the motivations of some of the characters are non-existant. All of a sudden, one of them has a mental break and does crazy shit. Why? Well, because we are in space of course, and as we all know, people in space go crazy, right? Sorry Star Trek, I guess you're missing the boat here.
The only reason I didn't give the book 1 star was for the cover art.
I found this intriguing at first but my interest began to wane at around 16%, and after skimming some more I wasn't inclined to change my mind. It reminded me a lot of Into the Drowning Deep (which I also started off enjoying, but ended up bored by) and aside from Sally, I wasn't interested in any of the characters.
This has such an excellent premise - I love First Contact stories - and I did enjoy parts of it very much. However, I was a little disappointed at the direction that it took, heading into familiar and well-trodden, predictable territory, which is far more horror than science fiction. I was also sorry to see that a main character developed in such a stereotypical way. Nevertheless, an entertaining read. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
I can’t say no to a first contact with Aliens story, I love everything with astronauts and/or set in space. So ever since I heard about it, this book was high up my TBR.
I liked the writing and the format. We're following the story but we always have small quotes by the same characters we’re reading about, looking at the past events. I really enjoyed this form of writing. The story itself is starting slow and building up more and more tension as it comes along. The unsettling feeling only grew with every new fact we learned about the spaceship.
The characters, well, I didn’t really like them. I don’t even know why, because thinking back to it, they all had their flaws but also some good sides, like humans have, when it comes to that, they seemed very realistic in that regard.
The whole book was good, I enjoyed reading about the characters and their adventure in space.
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. When it finally arrives & I start to read, I immediately have my first disappointment. This book is a book written about this book. What this means is the author decided to post comments throughout the entire book, revealing various characters thoughts about particular events in the book. It really took away from the story. Here you are reading & getting into it, then it's like someone interrupts you, "oh yeah, it's just a book" then you get back to the story. These stupid character comments interrupt the story, again, & again, & again.
The next disappointment is that even though things are happening, it's not all that interesting. When it started to seem like things would really get exciting (after about 100+ pages) it fizzles back out. There is a lot to do about the alien object. A lot. At first it's interesting, but then it's just more & more of the same. Don't get me wrong the occasional thing happens but it's just not enough to hold my interest. When I can't keep my eyes open to read a book, I'd say I've got a real dud on my hands.
Then we have the characters themselves. They were never written in a way that made me feel a connection to any of them. None of them were particularly likeable or had traits I could relate with. It was a total disconnect.
Last, the story itself. The answer was so obvious, yet the author felt the need to drag it out, before giving the big reveal. Yawn. Mr. Wellington, your readers aren't helpless idiots. We figured it out long before you decided to let us in on the secret.
This one is not a keeper.
If for some reason you really want to read this book, do yourself a favor & check it out at the library first. If you find you love it, then buy it. On the other hand, if you end up not liking it, at least you wont have wasted your money as well as your time.
This is one of the best books I’ve read for quite some time. It never went where I was expecting it to go, surprises all over the place, left me gasping sometimes! This is quite an amazing find and I thoroughly recommend i.
I was completely immersed in it. The alien object that they encounter was fascinating and different enough from anything I can remember, my imagination was constantly at work picturing it all. The author does a great job of not overwhelming the reader, you feel as if you discover the object right along with the characters.