ARC Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

Contagion (Contagion, #1)Contagion by Erin Bowman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

Contagion is a zombie-ish horror that is a thrill ride from start to finish. Imagine watching something like Resident Evil – okay they weren’t particularly great movies but still – the tension that is built up in such a terrifying scenario? That is what Contagion maintains throughout. Personally, I felt it delivered very well on what is promised in the blurb. The story set-up, that is, the world is explained in two prefaces – one for the development of the planetary systems, and another setting the stage for where the plot will unfold – its short, to the point, and lets us plunge smoothly into the action from the first chapter.

The crew from Sotor goes to answer a distress call from Black Quarry on F-1, a journey that has them traveling through light years in space. When they reach, things are eerie and spooky, to say the least. Dead bodies around, no clear cause of death, and the actual rescue team arriving more than a day behind them, their captain Dylan orders them all to do a complete sweep of the drilling operation, because her father was the commander and she wants to know what happened to him.

Around the one-third mark, the horror portion of the book starts, with them being victimized by an unknown contagion that spreads rapidly through bodily fluids and scratches. Then come the zombie hordes! (Okay not exactly zombies but I liked that line) It then becomes a fight for survival and finding a way to get off the god-forsaken planet, even though Dylan is stubborn about it. One after another crew members are getting picked off, and you are left on the edge of your seat wondering about questions like who will survive, what exactly is causing it, what is the doctor hiding, and many more. I admit I had to put the book down several times because the anxiety was riding high.

The book is from multiple third-person perspectives; primarily it is Nova (the pilot) and Thea (the intern) narrating, but occasionally there are also others, including the infected. It doesn’t go much into characterization, at least not overtly – the developments in the relationships between this ragtag crew is subtle, and the dynamic between most of them is hostile, which is understandable considering the circumstances. There is no romance, but Nova harbors feelings for Dylan, and which makes it difficult for her to leave her behind, but doesn’t keep her from opposing the latter’s bull-headedness. I was definitely not a fan of Dylan, because 50% of the problems arose because she couldn’t be bothered to listen to warnings, and she basically steamrolls over the other characters, risking their lives. Thea was an interesting counterpart to Dylan, because she is level-headed for the most part, and pragmatic enough to consider the best survival options.

There are various antagonists throughout the book, but perhaps human nature is the biggest antagonist for them. Their troubles may be from nature, and environment but their circumstances are worsened by emotionality. The ending sets itself a bit apart from the tone of the rest of the book, maybe because it goes to explain some background as well as set up things for the next book. The politics of the two systems is lightly touched upon in this book, but it does provide a strong base for the direction of the next story. I am very excited for what the sequel will hold, even if might not be a fast-paced thriller like this one, and how Nova and Thea will prevent an inter-galactic war.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Harper Teen, via Edelweiss.

Is it diverse?

One main queer character of Indian descent, and a secondary character of Indian descent. The other main character is of Turkish and Korean descent.

View all my reviews

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

  1. oooh this sounds so good! I wish now I requested it… it could have gone so wrong… Now I’ll need to get it from the library. I’m glad though that you enjoyed it so much and that you felt it was worth your time. I’m not a major fan of zombies but this kind of survival situation is just on point for me. ❤

  2. Ooh I’ve had my eye on this one! And it sounds pretty good! I love the sound of the tension and anxiety- that’s exactly what I was hoping for with this one. Can’t wait to get to it!

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