Archive | 10:28 PM

Book Review: Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols (3/5)

26 Sep

I forget where I heard about this book, but I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. I’ve had good luck with space travel stories so it seemed like a good fit for my interest. I liked the story and the characters just fine, but I never got as into this book as I wanted to. I was able to put it down easily and I was never overly committed to the characters. I’ve been looking forward to writing this review and having time to sort through my feelings on it.

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Cover image via Amazon

Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols

Summary from Amazon:

After Catherine Wells’ ship experiences a deadly incident in deep space and loses contact with NASA, the entire world believes her dead. Miraculously – and mysteriously – she survived, but with little memory of what happened.

Her reentry after a decade away is a turbulent one: Her husband has moved on with another woman, and the young daughter she left behind has grown into a teenager she barely recognizes. Catherine, too, is different. The long years alone changed her, and as she readjusts to being home, sometimes she feels disconnected and even, at times, deep rage toward her family and colleagues. There are periods of time she can’t account for, too, and she begins waking up in increasingly strange and worrisome locations, like restricted areas of NASA.

Suddenly, she’s questioning everything that happened up in space: how her crewmates died, how she survived, and now, what’s happening to her back on Earth.

I liked the premise of this story and the storytelling was done well. I really can’t put my finger on what part of it just fell flat for me. Katherine and David were a very realistic pair and Amy was a great character to be Katherine’s daughter. The space travel was well explained for a non-scientific reader though I cannot attest at all to it’s accuracy. Overall, I just wasn’t blown away by it and I think I expected to be.

I’m not sure how realistic I thought Katherine was. She was relatable at times, and other times she was so hard to understand. It’s hard to empathize with someone who’s explored another planet and was affected the way she was. I think that’s part of what kept me from getting more into this novel. I wanted to connect with her, but I couldn’t. That made Cal the other obvious character to connect with, but he seemed like a jerk for a lot of the story and I didn’t want to empathize with a jerk!

Amy was a really complex character and I liked her. She was really considerate of Katherine’s feelings and at the same time was a believable teenager. She was smart without being unbelievably intelligent. I thought her relationship with Katherine was one of the most complicated ones in the book and Nichols navigated the ups and downs of it well.

I think I’m lucky that I couldn’t relate to any of the characters in this book. I’ve not had a long-term relationship problem like Katherine and David and I think that’s the most relatable part of this SciFi book. Most of the other experiences were pretty unique to the fictionalized situation. Katherine’s problems with alcohol were fueled by the issues she was having with the trip she took so a lot of that didn’t seem relatable to me. This is an issue I know I’ve had with fantasy and SciFi before and I wish I was able to ‘get over it’ but it does keep me from enjoying some of the genre.

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Lisa A. Nichols Image via Goodreads

I thought the inclusion of Iris was done really well. She was brought up as a cautionary story throughout the book in a very subtle way and I just knew she was going to play a role later in the book. I thought the role she played was very appropriate and I liked how she was included. It was a fun little Easter Egg to track.

There wasn’t a part of the book I particularly disliked. That’s what makes giving this book a rating so difficult. It was enjoyable, I didn’t find myself avoiding it in any way. It just didn’t win me over. I thought it was well researched (my non-scientist brain didn’t see any issues at least) and well paced.

The audiobook was narrated by Lisa Flanagan and George Newbern. Flanagan did the majority of the narrating since Katherine had a lot more to say than Cal. I think it could have been done with just a female narrator, but I did like that there were two voices to tell the story. Both did well and didn’t detract from the story in any way. Flanagan did well and helping me feel Katherine’s panic at certain points of her story and helped give the story the sense of anxiety that it needed based on the subject.

Space exploration is a touchy subject. On one hand, many would agree that we’re not acting in the best interest of our planet and it’s not unheard of that we’ll get to a point in the future where it’s not inhabitable here. So looking for another world to inhabit makes sense as a way of future-proofing our race. But doing so is complicated. I believe that it’s probable that we’re not the only beings in the universe (statistically, this seems likely). But what makes us think we can inhabit another planet, especially if someone else is already there? There are countless movies about alien invasion of Earth. What if other species fear us as much as we fear them?

Writer’s Takeaway: Nichols set up a fun story with some interesting characters. I like how this book felt like it was set in a modern time, even though it mentions decades of deep space exploration that doesn’t align with our world. It didn’t seem like a far future and helped me feel more grounded in the story. For me, looking at writing historical fiction, this can be more challenging, but I think it’s a good goal.

Overall, it didn’t excite me but didn’t bore or bother me. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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