Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux
Publication Date: October 15th, 2019
Paperback. 352 pages

About Salvaged:

"In this dark science fiction thriller, a young woman must confront her past so the human race will have a future. 

Rosalyn Devar is on the run from her famous family, the bioengineering job she's come to hate, and her messed-up life. She's run all the way to outer space, where she's taken a position as a "space janitor," cleaning up ill-fated research expeditions. But no matter how far she goes, Rosalyn can't escape herself. After too many mistakes on the job, she's given one last chance: take care of salvaging the Brigantine, a research vessel that has gone dark, with all crew aboard thought dead. 

But the Brigantine's crew are very much alive--if not entirely human. Now Rosalyn is trapped on board, alone with a crew infected by a mysterious parasitic alien. The captain, Edison Aries, seems to still maintain some control over himself and the crew, but he won't be able to keep fighting much longer. Rosalyn and Edison must find a way to stop the parasite's onslaught...or it may take over the entire human race."

Salvaged is a sci-fi thriller that pulls no punches and drags you right into the thick of things. As I've mentioned in most of my other reviews for these sci-fi/space thrillers lately, I simply can't get enough of them because I'm always so curious to see how each new author will tackle the theme. Roux adds yet another fascinating new take on the idea of some unknown virus-like disturbance that is causing ships to go "dark"--that is, everyone on board dies.

There's a nice balance of mystery, action, and thriller components that help to make this a really well-rounded story. The pacing itself was a little off at times--sometimes it was fast-paced and highly compelling, other times things dragged a bit--but the story itself was consistent and provided for a really though-provoking situation that had me hooked.

The main protagonist is Rosalyn, a woman who has recently become a "space janitor" in an ongoing act to separate herself from her family for reasons that are slowly divulged over the course of the book. This is not exactly an enviable job by any stretch of the word and Rosalyn has also been using this job as a way to handle a past traumatic events while struggling with alcoholism as a result of said event. I had a bit of difficulty getting behind Rosalyn and some of her decisions throughout this story, but overall I did like getting to watch how she handled both the immediate and rather horrifying events of the present while juggling her own obstacle from her past personal life. She had a decent head on her shoulders and plenty of common sense that I always appreciate seeing in books like these.

One of the main struggles I had while reading Salvaged was with the way in which the POV jumped around among the other supporting characters. I mainly found myself feeling a little lost with some of the jumps, especially with how Roux would often then dive into the backstory of characters at random points. I love learning more about supporting characters, don't get me wrong, but the way in which she dove into backgrounds sometimes seemed to disrupt the flow and pacing of the story and I would have preferred if they had been either shorter or incorporated in a different manner. I also think part of the problem was simply how often the POVs started to jump around once the story got started. I distinctly remember thinking in the beginning how glad I was that there weren't a lot of unnecessary POV shifts...  and then once I got further it started doing just that a lot. It's not that I don't like switching POVs, but I do wish it had been used a bit more sparingly.

The alien components of this book were really well done as well, though I still have a few leftover questions about how it worked--though perhaps that's how Roux meant it to be. There was a very distinct sense of horror that accompanied the alien's influence on those "infected" by it that really added to the ominous, unpredictable atmosphere. I really never knew just what to expect from this story or what twist Roux would include next, so I appreciate that 'on the edge of your seat' feeling that I had as a result. However, there were also times when things that did happen were just a bit too far in the realm of unbelievable for me--particularly in reference to a specific extremely dramatic scene near the end--and this also took me out of the story slightly because of how it took away from the /authenticity of the rest of the book.

Overall, I've given Salvaged 3.5 stars. Despite some issues with POVs and pacing, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this new alien experience and the high-intensity atmosphere that kept me turning the pages.

*I received a copy of Salvaged courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

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