One Way, S. J. Morden – Book Review

Hello humans! You all know how I’ve been branching out into science fiction of late (and if you didn’t know, now you do), well I was given the opportunity to review One Way by S. J. Morden, which is described as a science fiction mystery thriller and I thought what better opportunity to delve into not one but three genres which are a little outside of my comfort zone!

one way s j morden

Goodreads Summary:

When the small crew of ex cons working on Mars start getting murdered, everyone is a suspect in this terrifying science fiction thriller from bona fide rocket scientist and award winning-author S. J. Morden.

It’s the dawn of a new era – and we’re ready to colonize Mars. But the company that’s been contracted to construct a new Mars base, has made promises they can’t fulfill and is desperate enough to cut corners. The first thing to go is the automation . . . the next thing they’ll have to deal with is the eight astronauts they’ll send to Mars, when there aren’t supposed to be any at all.

Frank – father, architect, murderer – is recruited for the mission to Mars with the promise of a better life, along with seven of his most notorious fellow inmates. But as his crew sets to work on the red wasteland of Mars, the accidents mount up, and Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all. As the list of suspect grows shorter, it’s up to Frank to uncover the terrible truth before it’s too late.
Dr. S. J. Morden trained as a rocket scientist before becoming the author of razor-sharp, award-winning science fiction. Perfect for fans of Andy Weir’s The Martian and Richard Morgan, One Way takes off like a rocket, pulling us along on a terrifying, epic ride with only one way out.

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I thought this book was just wonderful. I have never before really felt aware of all that could kill you if you were attempting to live on the surface of Mars. The prose really captures the importance of air and pressure, to such an extent that I found myself holding my breath whenever the characters were doing something particularly dangerous, and becoming increasingly appreciative of the atmosphere we have here on earth. It’s that tension that truly makes this book worth reading, the sense that not only are these people in a high-pressure situation, but the slightest thing going wrong could spell disaster for all of them.

I actually think the murder/thriller aspect of this book was far less interesting than just working out how these people were going to survive on Mars. The most interesting things for me, in any genre, are the moments where characters have to work to solve puzzles, to fix things that are broken using lateral thinking. This story is full of moments like that and it makes for very interesting reading.

I did enjoy the thriller element of this story, it added a whole other dimension to the action, not only is this planet less than habitable but someone is trying to make things worse. I did think that some parts of exposition felt a little bit rushed, so if you accidentally skimmed a sentence you might miss quite an important piece of information. I would have liked these epiphanies to have been given more prominence in the story, but perhaps that’s my Agatha Christie upbringing coming through, you can’t always have everyone gather around the fireside as the plot is explained I suppose.

One of the best things about this story is that, although it is a futuristic setting, the chain of events that leads these less-than-perfect people to be on Mars is entirely believable, you truly get the sense of the behind-the-scenes decisions that were made that then so affected the lives of these individuals. It’s actually quite refreshing to have a book that is about somewhat ordinary people being put into a situation which we would normally read about trained astronauts dealing with. It’s not to say that astronauts aren’t relatable and criminals are, but it does mean that the problem solving and the ways of dealing with situations on Mars are talked about in a different way.

I wasn’t sure, going in, how I would find this book. I am delighted to say I actually enjoyed reading it a lot. I thought that the characters were interesting, the plot was engaging and the setting was, well out of this world (I’m sorry). I would certainly recommend it to anyone like me who hasn’t read a lot of similar titles.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Now that I’ve dipped my toe into the waters, what other similar books should I read? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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