My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In full disclosure I won this in a Goodreads giveaway which in no way influenced my review. I was hesitant to even put in for this. Lately almost all the SF I see is either military or dystopian and I don't really care for either. This touches on military but just lightly. It reminded me more of Alien in all the best ways. If I had more time to read right now I'd have finished it in a day.
It's first person pov through the eyes of the titular character. In fact, we never have a name for him, just admiral. He's woken up wrong out of his sleeper stasis chamber with three fresh from the Imperial academy trainees who were meant to go to a prestigious first berth on the Julian. Instead they are on a downed ship on an unknown planet. The admiral doesn't even have a name on record making the trainees suspicious. There is Deilani, the doctor, Salmagard who comes from the aristocratic sect with top tiered genes and Nils, the electronics tech. As for the Admiral, he's addicted to something and going into withdrawal.
Deilani thinks he's a spy and is highly aggressive about it and yet, Salmagard seems to know who he is and obeys him. Nils is in between the two. But soon it doesn't matter. With each chapter a new and deadly problem crops up until you're left with a creeping dread, wondering if they'll survive.
For not only is the ship downed, the crew is dead and the planet is highly unstable. They have no way off the planet via the ship and their only hope might be to get to the newly established colony there. But what if the planet has turned against the colonists too?
Through the Admiral we do get to know the characters well (or as well as you can in a first person novel). They are well drawn and the slow burn horror is done just right. The ending might be a tad rushed but other than that I really enjoyed this. I wouldn't call the narrator unreliable but he doesn't share anything with us about himself until the very end (I came close to figuring it out but I was more with Salmagard on that one. This author was new to me and I'd like to read more.
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