Lightless

Featured
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
1009   0
Write Review
Lightless
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
14+
Release Date
September 29, 2015
ISBN
978-0553394429
Buy This Book
      

With deeply moving human drama, nail-biting suspense—and bold speculation informed by a degree in physics—C. A. Higgins spins a riveting science fiction debut guaranteed to catapult readers beyond their expectations. Serving aboard the Ananke, an experimental military spacecraft launched by the ruthless organization that rules Earth and its solar system, computer scientist Althea has established an intense emotional bond—not with any of her crewmates, but with the ship’s electronic systems, which speak more deeply to her analytical mind than human feelings do. But when a pair of fugitive terrorists gain access to the Ananke, Althea must draw upon her heart and soul for the strength to defend her beloved ship. While one of the saboteurs remains at large somewhere on board, his captured partner—the enigmatic Ivan—may prove to be more dangerous. The perversely fascinating criminal whose silver tongue is his most effective weapon has long evaded the authorities’ most relentless surveillance—and kept the truth about his methods and motives well hidden. As the ship’s systems begin to malfunction and the claustrophobic atmosphere is increasingly poisoned by distrust and suspicion, it falls to Althea to penetrate the prisoner’s layers of intrigue and deception before all is lost. But when the true nature of Ivan’s mission is exposed, it will change Althea forever—if it doesn’t kill her first.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0  (1)
Characters 
 
3.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
3.0  (1)
(Updated: September 30, 2015)
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0

More Psych Mystery Than Sci-Fi

DISCLAIMER: This book does not technically contain characters of a Young Adult age (unless one counts the relative maturity state of a certain artificial intelligence.) The hope was that there could be some crossover appeal, but that is for the individual reader to decide.

While this is indeed a sci-fi, it’s a specific type of speculative fiction. The book is best described as a “locked in spaceship” mystery. The cast of characters is small—the entire story isolated to a single (albeit massive) ship and centered around its skeleton crew of 3 plus a captured fugitive and an inquisitor. Our main 3rd-person POV characters are the ship’s engineer/programmer, Althea, the inquisitor, Ida Stays, and with great eventuality, a certain ship’s A.I. program. There is the understanding that humanity has established colonies all over the solar system, but the concept tends more toward the abstract.

What I Liked:

The book offers an incredibly accurate depiction of sociopathy, via one of the main point-of-view characters. The thirst for power and control, the focused drive to ‘win’, and the absence of key emotional capacities all ring eerily true from a psychological standpoint. The inhumanity of the trait adds significantly more weight to the antagonist. It also compliments the government she serves—one that can so callously refer to vengeful mass murder as “depopulation.”

The extensive interrogation scenes provided an interesting mode for revealing the mysterious Ivan’s backstory. While there is ever-present suspicion over the accuracy of his tales, his storytelling-under-duress is one of the stronger highlights of the plot. As is the ambiguity over who’s side he may be on. Is he a mercurial rogue out for himself and nothing more, or does he have strategic sympathies with an anti-government movement?

What Didn’t Work For Me:

There is an unfortunate excess of people and things with ‘A’ names for readers to keep track of. There’s Ananke, the super secret experimental ship on which the entire story takes place… Althea, the ship’s engineer/programmer and one of our main POV characters… Annwn, the name of the invading mercenary ship… Annie, the name of the Annwn’s spastic A.I. program… and Aletheia, the truth-serum the evil Orwellian central government for some reason hesitates to utilize (in spite of the fact that they have little problem justifying the genocide of entire planetoids as a means of maintaining absolute control over the solar system’s populace.)

Throughout nearly all of this story, Althea comes across as a disappointingly weak character—almost constantly depicted as shaking, frustrated, trembling, crying, or fleeing. This reader may have started out with my hopes for her set too high, but this was almost entirely due to the expectation set up by the ‘Dear Reader’ note (located at the front of the ARC version of this book.) In it, we are told we will watch Althea “transform from a bright but introverted girl into the true heroine of the story, from Firefly’s Kaylee Frye to Alien’s Ripley.” In actuality, Althea doesn’t resemble either of those characters in the slightest at any point in the story—unless the qualifications for this claim don’t extend beyond gender, base job function, and being on a spaceship.

It would have helped tremendously if we would have been shown Althea at some point succeeding and thriving in her element. Instead we find her in a pattern of bafflement and failure from the onset, with no evidence of her alleged competency presented or even suggested until well after page 200—when the Ananke’s captain, Domition, mentions that Althea has been working on the ship’s computer for the last decade. Up until then, this reader had the impression that the ship was recently commissioned. (And perhaps it was, the computer being a separate element not added until a later date. As far as I could tell, this wasn’t ever clarified.)

Sympathizing with Althea and her plight is impeded in several ways, not the least of which was a perplexing lack of backstory. We learn that she is from the Luna colony, but unfortunately, little else ever comes to light. No subtle sprinklings of upbringing, family history, hobbies, formative relationships or traumas that may help explain her motivations, awkwardness, and social ineptitude. Althea had great potential to be a sympathetic character—possibly the only sympathetic character. But that potential wasn’t quite realized. Her maternal attachment to her ship’s computer system was a compelling component, to be sure, but one that would have greatly benefitted from more in-depth justification.

The prose itself showed a lot of potential, a distinct voice and an ambitious scope of imagining. But on the whole, the story itself felt a bit imbalanced—overwritten in some places and underwritten in others. Passive voice and repetition showed up enough to sometimes encumber momentum and pacing. (Example: “Down the hall she walked, down the winding hall, toward the white room.”)

I would recommend this story more for readers who enjoy psychological-based mystery.

Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Escape The Future
"AS POWERFUL AS CORMAC MCCARTHY... A TIMELY, TROUBLING, AND MEMORABLE...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Planetsider
A story of self-discovery, belonging and hope. ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Where the Sea Takes Me
Two years later might as well be two lifetimes. ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From You to Me
Amelia Peabody lives in a small town where nothing changes....
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
"According to legend, when the world was young, two gods...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
What will it take for a cynical older sister to...
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Takedown
Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Monica the Marshmallow Fairy: A Rainbow Magic Book (The Sweet Fairies #1)
Join Rachel and Kirsty on their sweetest-ever fairy adventure! ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Stanley Will Probably Be Fine
Nobody knows comics trivia like Stanley knows comics trivia. ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Bow Wow: A Bowser and Birdie Novel (#3)
A bull shark in the swamp? No one in the...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Scream and Scream Again
R.L. Stine—the godfather of Goosebumps—and some of the most popular...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Courage
Ever since T’Shawn’s dad died, his mother has been struggling...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Cardboard Kingdom
Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Remy Sneakers and the Lost Treasure (Remy Sneakers #2)
Someone has ransacked Remy's home and stolen his prized possession,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Judy Moody Was in a Mood (Judy Moody #1)
"Judy Moody was in a mood. Not a good mood....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Halfway to Happily Ever After (The Wish List #3)
Happily Ever After? Not so fast! ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Where the Sea Takes Me
 
5.0
"Sienna just finished her freshman year in college. It’s been two years since she parted from Deni back in Indonesia...."
Heretics Anonymous
 
4.3
"What worked: This is a humorous at times contemporary novel of an Atheist teen who ends up in a Catholic..."
Always Forever Maybe
 
5.0
"It isn't always easy to love a book that talks about a dark subject, but Rissi captivated me with her..."
The Loneliest Girl in The Universe
 
5.0
"What worked: This is one of those books you can't put down! I literally stayed up until the early morning..."
 
2.7
""Pretties" is a continuation of the Uglies series where Tally Youngblood has now returned to the city and become a..."
Bring Me Their Hearts
 
5.0
""Bring Me Their Hearts" was a fantastic YA fantasy that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to!..."
Fawkes
 
2.0
""Fawkes" is a YA historical fantasy that sounds so interesting! Unfortunately, I could not get into it. In this alternate..."
Fireblood (Frostblood #2)
 
4.0
""Fireblood" was a pretty good continuation of the Frostblood Saga. While the first book took place in the land of..."
Thief of Lies
 
4.0
"“Thief of Lies” is the first in the Library Jumpers series. It had me hooked at the start but lost..."
The Waking Land
 
5.0
"“The Waking Land” is an enthralling YA fantasy that follows Elanna Valtai. The prologue shows us Elanna’s nightmares over the..."
The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles #1)
 
3.0
""The Adoration of Jenna Fox" is the story of a teenager who wakes up from a coma without any memories..."
Zombie Abbey
 
2.3
""Zombie Abbey" is Downton Abbey with zombies (and characters names changed). Although it's been a while since I watched Downton..."
Heartless
 
4.0
""Heartless" is the origin story for the Queen of Hearts (of Alice in Wonderland fame). Catherine, destined to be the..."
All The Crooked Saints
 
4.0
""All the Crooked Saints" is YA fiction with a heavy dose of magical realism. The Soria family lives in Bicho..."
Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1)
 
5.0
""Beastly" is a beautiful and amazing story of second chances, the importance of who you are within, and love. A..."
Don't Look Back
 
4.0
""Don't Look Back" is a one-off thriller from Jennifer L. Armentrout. It begins with Samantha appearing bloody and beat up..."
Seven Days of You
 
4.0
""Seven Days of You" follows Sophia during her last week in Tokyo, where she has lived for the last four..."
When the Moon Was Ours
 
5.0
""When the Moon was Ours" is a hauntingly beautiful and lyrical masterpiece. McLemore is an incredible storyteller. The words do..."
Finding Audrey
 
4.0
"I think this is one of Kinsella's finest books. There is so much heart, struggle, and soul to this book...."
Reclaiming Shilo Snow
 
4.0
""Reclaiming Shilo Snow" is an even better continuation of "The Evaporation of Sofi Snow" duology. All the story lines are..."