Showing posts with label s.j. morden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label s.j. morden. Show all posts

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: No Way by S.J. Morden

*No Way will be published Tuesday, February 26th!* 

No Way
No Way by S.J. Morden (Frank Kitteridge #2)
Orbit, 2019
Paperback. 416 pages.

Note: This is the sequel to the first book, One Way, and although I will have no spoilers from this book, there will be things mentioned that may act as inadvertent spoilers for the first book. I never give specific spoilers, but I just want to give a head's up if you haven't read the first book.

About No Way:

"'In the sequel to the terrifying science fiction thriller, One Way, returning home from Mars may mean striking a deal with the very people who abandoned him. 

They were sent to build a utopia, but all they found on Mars was death. 

Frank Kitteridge has been abandoned. But XO, the greedy--and ultimately murderous--corporate architects of humanity's first Mars base made a costly mistake when they left him there: they left him alive. Using his skills and his wits, he's going to find a way back home even if it kills him. 

Little does he know that Mars isn't completely empty. Just over the mountain, there's another XO base where things are going terribly, catastrophically wrong. And when the survivors of that mission find Frank, they're going to want to take even the little he has away from him. 

If there's anything in Frank's favor, it's this: he's always been prepared to go to the extremes to get the job done. That's how he ended up on Mars in the first place. It just might be his ticket back."

No Way picks up almost immediately after the events of One Way and I would want it no other way. The intensity and the excitement are just as high as they were at the end of One Way, although this time Frank has some new high stakes to deal with that are vastly different than what he death with before--though they are just as deadly.

Frank is now alone on Mars--or so he initially thinks--and must take on all of the responsibilities around the base in order to keep himself alive for NASA's arrival in order for him to potentially go back to Earth one day. This, of course, includes cleaning up all of the mess leftover from the violent events that occurred at the end of the first book in order to keep XO happy and to ensure Frank is able to safely leave Mars. Predictably, nothing can possibly go smoothly on this dry, lonely planet, and Frank is suddenly dealing with even more stress than he already was.

Frank remains the same 'too-old-for-this-shit' sort of man that he was in One Way, and I appreciate how consistent Morden has kept his personality. Frank has definitely had major character development throughout both books, but the core things that make him who he is, such as his somewhat standoff-ish nature and his lack of a charismatic presence, continue to shine and make him an oddly and uniquely compelling character. I also enjoyed seeing Frank's interactions with the NASA crew that arrives, as it really put him in an uncomfortable position, what with XO still essentially controlling what he can say and Frank's own moral dilemmas with the information he holds onto. I liked that Morden took into account that Frank, who had spent months alone on Mars, would have some issues being suddenly inundated with an entire crew of new people, along with his trauma from the events of the previous book. I liked that Morden focused on the mental components of the entire ordeal in addition to the rest of the plot.

I mentioned in my review for the first book that the author trained as a planetary geologist, and his passion and dedication to the more technical aspects related to this story continue to shine in this book. I'm no rocket scientist myself and I can't say I have much knowledge of the specifics of how surviving on Mars would work so I can't professionally comment on it, but it appears his research is really well done and it adds so many layers of authenticity and realism that make this book all the more compelling. When something feels real, the stakes always feel higher and more personal and that's exactly what happened here. I think one of the things hat makes these books so captivating and chilling is that it all feels eerily believable. I do believe that there are people who would create companies that have such little compassion for human beings and would put them in dangerous situations.

No Way is the sort of book that you can't put down. Morden has true skill in knowing how to craft each chapter and event in such a way that makes the reader fully engaged with what's happening in the present, while also constantly yearning to find out what is going to happen next. He has a simple yet sophisticated prose that is filled with foreshadowing and excellent descriptions.

Overall, I've given No Way 4.75 stars (rounded up to five on Goodreads, etc.)! This is such an exciting series and I haven't been able to tear myself from the pages. I don't know if there is a third book in the works, but I desperately hope that there is because I will absolutely read it! 

*I received a review copy of No Way courtesy of Orbit books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Thursday, March 29, 2018

One Way by S.J. Morden

*One Way is available Tuesday, April 10th!*

One Way by S.J. Morden. Orbit, 2017. Paperback. 368  pages.

Now this was a fun, fast-paced adventure that I found incredibly entertaining.

I was immediately pulled in by the premise of this book and I'm happy to say that I felt it was executed really well. I've recently found that although I'm not always a huge sci-fi fan, I do really enjoy a good space novel, so One Way really fit that bill for me. I've been thinking of this book as a 'And Then There Were None in space,' and that in itself is a good enough description to hook me. The author, S.J. Morden, is a "bone fide rocket scientist" and for me that really gave this book an additional sense of authenticity that made it all the more enjoyable for me.

One Way kicks off when a small crew of ex-cons are recruited to be the first men to set up base on Mars. When a few of the crew members begin dying at random, the deaths that initially appear to be accidents soon start adding up to look a bit more suspicious than initially thought. As you can imagine, the number of suspects is limited and tensions start to rise.

The beginning of this book was a little on the slow side, but that's only because of the setup that had to be done to really get the foundation settled and the story and going. It was never boring, but it did leave me wondering if it would pick up--and fortunately it did. By the time I reached the midway point of this book, it was a complete page-turner and I was having a hard time putting this book down at all. There were a few times when the technical aspects of things took over a bit too much for me and I would sort of skim over the more intricate aspects, but that didn't happen too much to really be a problem. At the end of the day, I'd probably rather have too many details than not enough, anyway.

I really liked the cast of characters that was collected for the crew. They weren't all entirely likable, but they all had a certain authenticity that worked really for the story and helped to tell their own personal backstories. It was hard to keep track of who was who initially, but eventually the personalities of each began to show through and things got smoother. Our main protagonist, Frank, often came across as a fairly generic sort of figure, but I actually thought this worked well in coordination with the other characters, as it basically made him the de facto leader, as it seemed it was most natural and that he was the most clear-headed at all times. Despite his murder conviction, Frank seems to be a fairly decent guy (who ever thought those words would be typed?) One Way has a theme of 'second chance' running through it that I think every character could relate to in some way, and that I'm sure many of us reader could also relate to. I did want a little bit more from each of the characters in terms of fully developing the into three dimensional figures, particularly when it comes to a man named Brack. The characters were still well done, but I just felt like the development wasn't quite there.

One Way wasn't perfect and there were more than a few things that I could have done without, such as placing some sort of classified document at the beginning of each chapter that documents conversations and dialogue between the creators of the company that sends the crew to Mars. Some of these were really interesting and did add a lot to the story, but more than a few felt a bit unneeded and were overall uninteresting.

One Way ends on a bit of a cliffhanger in the sense we find out what's been going and why people have been dying, but it still leaves off right at a point where I cannot way to find out what happens next. I really can't wait to read the sequel!

Overall, I've given One Way  four stars. This isn't some phenomenal, ground-breaking book, but it is incredibly fascinating and highly entertaining nonetheless. I simply did not want to put it down. Morden himself is a retired rocket scientist, which lends quite a lot of credibility to the technical aspects within this book.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I received a copy of One Way courtesy of the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

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