“Destroyer” by Brian G. Turner – Self Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Book Review

The SPSFC started with 300 books and narrowed it down to 30 semi-finalists. I’ll be reviewing every semi-finalist, as well as several books from other group’s slush piles that looked interesting to me.

Destroyer by Brian G. Turner

Jaigar awakens from cryo-sleep to find things aren’t exactly what he expected on the colony ship. He should be waking up after 30 years, ready to settle a planet; instead, the power is flickering, the ship appears damaged, and he and others who’ve awakened with him have to begin exploring the massive colony ship to try to survive.

The novel has a gripping opening, and the premise and action are quite well done. At times, it’s got shades of The Martian with the kind of “figure it out or die” scenarios that happen. Those are few and far between, though, as a lot of the action is more subtle and centered around questions of what happened, who or what is to blame, and how to survive.

Each of the characters has hints of intriguing background. Jaigar awakens concerned he’s going to be arrested by the official he sees. Others give some shadowy clues about their lives before. Clearly, the situation makes it tough for them to sit around and make small talk, but as a reader I would have liked to know more about the characters. Many of them seem interesting, but the payoff isn’t there in this first book. We as readers don’t get enough to full dig in to their stories, motivations, or even history as people.

The concept of waking up on a colony ship in which you don’t really know what to do or where to go for supplies or help is fascinating. I haven’t really seen it done this way before. It’s also not really something I’ve thought about. When all the people who know about where stuff is and how to use it on such a massive ship are out of commission, what can the characters do? This hook had me going through the rest of the book and was enough to sustain my interest. That said, it reads at times as though Turner, the author, is rationing out information in the slowest possible fashion to keep readers in the dark. The characters are almost ridiculous vague with each other, the plot has one major reveal, but has introduced so many dangling threads at that point that it left me wanting much more. It’s almost a frustrating experience, because I do want more, but was feeling impatient about how little was being given to me as a reader.

Destroyer is an exciting first-in-series read, but doesn’t answer many questions. It’s a thrilling read, but light on character background and content. I’m curious about what happens next, but also wanted more from the first book to hook me for the second.

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The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

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