In the year 2032, a group of powerful billionaires competes to monetize and revolutionize deep space exploration in the latest thriller from Daniel Suarez (Change Agent, 2017, etc.)
Though the space exploration field is competitive, Nathan Joyce, who made a fortune though bitcoin and other ventures, believes to have an ace up his sleeve in the form of James “J.T.” Tighe, an accomplished cave diver who is among more than 400 candidates to lead an eight-man team on a four-year-long trek past the moon into deep space, where they’ll attempt to mine an asteroid.
The plan, at least initially, is to extract valuable resources from the asteroid in hopes to find a way to combat climate change. After using an online fun-raising campaign similar to GoFundMe, where Joyce pledges to match all donations, candidates are taken to a small island off the Pacific and put through rigorous training exercises designed to weed out the weak and test even the strongest in their fields. Next to Tighe, who is eventually chosen to lead the mission, are seven highly-qualified individuals with unique and varying backgrounds, including experts in electronics, a former astronaut, and a scene-stealing mountain climber who rounds out the cast rather nicely.
As the mission gets underway, it doesn’t take long for things to start going wrong—and as fans of sci-fi and technothrillers already know, all problems are made worse in space. As Tighe and his crew battle their way through a number of issues, secrets eventually emerge . . . and in the end, Tighe must question everyone and everything, if he hopes to ever return home.
Compared to his other works, Suarez’s latest is a little lighter on the actual science. Whereas Change Agent delved deep into the field of DNA, his latest offers only enough information to make the story plausible enough, before ramping up the entertainment and suspense. Tighe is a solid protagionist, though readers won’t learn most of his past until a little ways into the book (the same is true for the other characters as well), and the pacing is fast enough to keep readers engaged. One fascinating thread that takes full advantage of the futuristic setting is the idea behind space laws, and Suarez brings along attorney Lukas Rochat, a young lawyer who is considered among the best in the game as deciphering and, more importantly, finding loopholes around those laws to ensure that Joyce’s team can do whatever is needed to see their mission through.
That said, the plot suffers a tad from obvious twits, and while some of the suspense hinges on loyalties and truth-seeking, veteran readers will likely see the end game coming a mile away. That doesn’t mean it won’t still be an enjoyable read, Suarez is a fine writer, but even so, the mystery element does lack some punch.
Overall, Suarez manages to build a fun universe with a diverse cast of characters that sci-fi and technothriller fans will enjoy, even if they know where the story is going before it gets there.
Author: Daniel Suarez
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
Release Date: April 23, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.