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Dead Silence Hardcover – February 8, 2022
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A Best Book of 2022 by the New York Public Library • One of the Best SFF Books of 2022 (Gizmodo) • One of the Best SF Mysteries of 2022 (CrimeReads) • A GoodReads Choice Award finalist for Best Science Fiction!
Titanic meets Event Horizon in this SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn't yet ended.
Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed―made obsolete―when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.
What they find is shocking: the Aurora, a famous luxury spaceliner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick search of the ship reveals something isn’t right.
Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Messages scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold on to her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.
"Truly un-put-downable in its purest sense.” Chloe Gong, #1 New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights
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“I ate this book in one sitting because I was in the mood to be freaked out and it delivered tremendously. Truly un-put-downable in its purest sense.” ―Chloe Gong, #1 New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights
"Stomach-turning, sinister space horror perfect for fans of Alien and Event Horizon." ―Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"At the intersection of science fiction and horror, Dead Silence is the ultimate haunted house story, in space." ―Alma Katsu, author of The Deep and The Hunger
“This is great, immersive, atmospheric space horror that shows Barnes is a talented storyteller and proves that, despite rumors to the contrary, horror belongs in space.” ―Locus
“Dead Silence mixes horror, mystery and sci-fi into a thrill ride sure to shock you out of your reading rut. This is one of those time-warp books―the ones where you look away from the clock, then look back and it’s suddenly way past your bedtime.” ―BookPage, Starred Review
“With a compelling haunted-house-in-space frame, excellent worldbuilding, vivid imagery, biting social commentary, sustained tension, and a storytelling style that seamlessly moves between the mortal danger of the present and Kovalik's unsettling past, this sf-horror blend will resonate loudly with readers.” ―Library Journal
“Barnes is giving you Titanic but make it scary, she’s giving you Event Horizon, she’s giving you Ghost Ship; for real, this book will make your skin crawl.” ―BookRiot
"This story slides and slithers from creepy and atmospheric to skin-crawling, edge-of-your-seat terror." ―T. Kingfisher, author of What Moves the Dead
“Dead Silence gives you the suffocating claustrophobia of 2001: A Space Odyssey mixed with the horrors of Alien. I couldn't stop reading.” ―Mur Lafferty, Hugo Award-Winning author of Six Wakes
"Barnes ably conjures the kind of haunting setting and atmosphere required for this Event Horizon-esque novel... Recommended for fans of claustrophobic space horror." ―Booklist
“Barnes plays nicely on human fears of both madness and of ghosts, carefully blurring the line between science fiction and horror... Those with a taste for blending genres will enjoy this combo.” ―Publishers Weekly
"Creepy and satisfying; I'll be checking under my bed tonight." ―Sarah Pinsker, author of the Nebula Award winning A Song For A New Day
"I've always considered Alien the high mark of sci-fi horror. No longer. Dead Silence leaves it in the dust." ―Lisa Shearin, New York Times bestselling author
"Dead Silence will keep you awake at night....Expertly paced, this novel is full of old ghosts in every way possible, and will haunt you long after the last page." ―Laurie Faria Stolarz, author of Jane Anonymous
"I was turning pages long into the night, and the bags under my eyes are well worth it!" ―Rachel Vincent, New York Times bestselling author of Red Wolf
"Compulsive reading at its best. A sci-fi horror so expertly delivered you'll be peeking through your fingers until the last page!" ―Melissa Landers, author of the Alienated and Starflight series
"The richly realized world that S.A. Barnes creates draws us in, and the relatable characters charm us. The dread mounts to a powerful conclusion." ―David Wellington, author of The Last Astronaut
About the Author
- Publisher : Tor Nightfire (February 8, 2022)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250819997
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250819994
- Item Weight : 10.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 1.15 x 8.65 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #89,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2022
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Somewhere I read that the author is usually a YA writer, and I think it shows. The only reason we know this takes place in space with all this tech is because the author told us it is so. Outside of that, the author does very little to describe this “futuristic” environment, so it breaks consistency when you try to picture what’s going on. For example, at some point, they are inside an structure where they use rope to float around. A rope? Couldn’t they think of something more sci-fi than a rope? And I wasn’t sure if zero G was a thing or not until then. It feels as if the author remembered they were writing a sci-fi and interjected something quick. The structure they enter in the book is described a being huge, and yet not much is done to really describe the place, so it’s hard to picture how big it is. It doesn’t help that we only explore a few places and go back to them, the rest of the structure is unknown. Towards the end, there is more inconsistency in the writing during a physical confrontation where one of them throws themselves towards the other and pins the other person down. The characters state that the systems are off, which means they are not in zero-G; however, one of them says they can’t get the other person off because they are too heavy. Throughout the story, you lose a sense of how they are getting through; floating or walking. The author also uses current time sayings (real life not the book) and explaining in the book that that is how they used to say it in the past. At some point the MC criticizes that someone is using a pencil, which is described as old way of writing with a tube and ink inside. How about describing how they do things in their time in the story instead of this lazy workaround.
Those were some of the issues I had with the writing. I am trying my best to avoid spoilers. The main character is one of the most unlikable character I’ve encounter. I kind of get what they were going with, but it just seems like the main character, also team lead, was unfit to be in charge of anything. It doesn’t help that the MC doesn’t really do anything other than glare at others. Even the guy that the author writes as the a**hole of the group had more development and common sense than our MC. The romance was unnecessary and amounted to nothing. There wasn’t much of exposition for the rest because one minute they’re fine, and the next they’re dead. No climax or something interesting.
The “twist” of the story was weak and poorly executed. I was expecting this to get better but they never did. The author borrows ideas from Alien, Aliens, Event Horizon, Ghost Ship, and Dead Space games 1 and 2, but only borrows the generic aspect and fails at capturing what made those titles great. If you have read “The Effort,” then this is the same; a whole lot of nothing. It had potential, but it has way too many problems to be anything other than a wasted effort.
I have to be candid with this one. Reading this hit me at the perfect time in many ways. My fiancé Priscilla was traveling for work at a new job. I went to bed at midnight and she woke me up at 4:30AM to bring her to the airport. I thought I’d get to go back to sleep but then the puppy was whining so I didn’t. I then preceded to do 7 hours of house and yard work, so exhaustion doesn’t really begin to explain it. I did the majority of my reading after that and the following day. I think because of the prior lack of sleep I worked myself up into a migraine for the next day. Didn’t stop me though, I just continued reading with it.
The first 160ish pages nothing happens. I kept thinking like why is this so boring? Is it just written poorly? Why can’t I seem to sit still and get through it? Then I realized that I had been kind of sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for something to happen since page one. So it wasn’t poor writing, it was purposeful. It was building suspense. That cabin-fever feeling, that paranoia. What I noticed around this point was that I was actually feeling genuine paranoia while reading. I’ve only ever felt this way while reading a single time before. It was while reading Dracula, a Signet classic version with font so small I legitimately wished for a magnifying glass. Same thing though, I was sick with a migraine while reading it, and I felt heightened paranoia while reading it the entire time. Now, much older, I was feeling the same again with Dead Silence. Just a very continuous, creeping suspicion that someone was watching. I felt like I kept seeing things out of the corner of my eye or if I’d turn around too quickly I’d catch a glimpse of something. I mean, the kind of have-to-force-yourself-to-go-to-the-basement-laundry-room creepy.
This may not work for everyone, this might not hit at all for some. For me though, this was just a perfect storm of things. Priscilla and I haven’t really been apart at all in the last two+ years due to Covid. The over-tiredness, the migraine, the being alone. It all just worked really well for me. I think this’ll be my new creepy suggestion from now on for people.
With all that being said, there are still some things I didn’t particularly like. The story is first person and the main character says a great amount of things over and over and over. This certainly adds to the cabin fever-y, “is anything real” side of the story, but I do firmly believe that some of it was a little too repetitive. The story also has a ‘now’ and ‘then’ where the character is being interviewed about what happened (kind of Annihilation style) and they just straight up talk about deaths before they happen. That’s kind of overdone for me and it didn’t work as well here as it was intended. I also didn’t particularly like any of the characters. That doesn’t make the story less spooky or horrifying, it just would have hit home more if I cared about them each personally.
The second half of the book breaks away from the ultimate horror side and becomes more of an action-y climax. This includes an explanation of what’s causing the events on the ship. For me, a nice and neat ending, with explanation included, kind of kills the overall feel of the novel. I don’t mind when horror is ambiguous, I kind of prefer it. With that being said, the second half of the novel is certainly still quite enjoyable!
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Essentially a mash-up of stories we already know, notably Alien and Event Horizon, nothing here feels new. The scares simply don't land and the main character is a neurotic bore, the rest of the characters are a range of walking clichés.
Barnes is generally a young adult writer and it shows. This reads like YA fiction with a bit more gore and bad language.
When her 4-man crew of LINA, a small repair ship, pick up a faint distress signal from an area outside their remit, Claire decides to see if they can render aid. Her crew are not happy about the decision as it's the end of a long rotation for them as a beacon repair team, & they are looking forward to returning to Earth. When they reach the distress beacon, they find to their amazement that it's from the Aurora, a luxury space-liner, based on the old cruise ships, which set off on its maiden voyage around the stars over twenty years ago. There were rich businessmen, celebrities & sports stars onboard, & partway into the journey, base lost contact with the ship & it was never heard of again.
Although it's nigh impossible than anyone could have survived this long, Claire decides to board the Aurora & claim salvage rights by taking away undeniable proof of its existence. Once onboard, they soon realise that something strange happened - this was no case of engineering malfunction, but a strange sickness seems to have taken over the ship. Footage from a recharged tablet shows the passengers & crew beginning to violently attack each other. The team decide to seal themselves off along with the bridge & first class section & attempt to pilot the ship to the nearest comms point to signal for help, but before long they start to suffer from violent headaches & this time it's not just Claire who sees hallucinations. Something killed the passengers & the crew on the Aurora & now it looks as if it could kill Claire & her team too.
I really enjoyed this. I was hooked in right at the beginning & it never lets up. It starts off with Claire being found several weeks after the above events, seemingly again the only survivor, & those interviewing her are suspicious & believe she killed her crew to take a bigger share of the salvage profits. Claire can't remember what happened but it starts coming back in flashbacks. If you have ever visited an abandoned space or building, you know how eerie it is when there are no people there now, & that's without the dead bodies. I found it very atmospheric & I was actually nervous in some parts. The big reveal is actually a little less exciting than I'd imagined, but it didn't spoil the overall experience. 5 stars
Overall I was impressed, the book provided me with a lot of intrigue and I was gripped for near enough all of it. Only reason for 4 stars and not 5 is, the book in my opinion shares no revelance with Bioshock and the only essence of Prey I got was the fact it was in space! However this didn't deter me from carrying on to read. I really did enjoy it. 👍