Book Review: Screams from the Void by Anne Tibbets
As promised, here is my extended review of Screams from the Void by Anne Tibbets. I received an ARC to review as a participant in a blog tour. Now, a few days late, I have finished the novel.
My overall feeling about this book is the same as my first impression. It’s damn good. I especially like how it starts off with a bang. The expectation is set in the first few pages that the book will deliver gruesome sci-fi terror in the vein of Ridley Scott’s Alien. The novel delivers on this promise.
Raina, the protagonist, is a sympathetic character who we learn made the mistake of getting involved in an abusive relationship during a two-year voyage aboard an interstellar spacecraft. At the beginning of the novel, she’s recently broken off a relationship with her abuser and reported him to the captain. As is often the case in he said/she said situations, Raina receives little support from the captain, and it is intimated that the whole predicament is her fault.
Utilizing a timeline alternating from the present to months earlier, while Raina was still in the relationship with her abuser, we learn how horrible her domestic situation was. This is especially poignant in light of the recent MeToo movement. It is also a clever device to differentiate Screams from the Void from other horrifying tales of deadly aliens running amok aboard starships. I will go so far as to say that the tale of abuse that continues throughout the novel and is only resolved at its climax is more terrifying and ultimately satisfying than the crew battling to survive the alien encounter.
This fast-paced novel is gory good fun. Intertwining a tale of domestic abuse with a space monster story makes for a unique read. The supporting characters are cut from typical sci-fi cloth that will make them readily recognizable to readers. But have no fear; Raina and her abuser are not stereotypical, both being well characterized. My one quibble is that in places, profanity is ever so slightly overused to show emotional distress.
I will reiterate that aspiring authors will do well to study the opening chapter of this book. It really does start off with a big bang that immediately pulls the reader into the story. Also, it’s worth reading the acknowledgments, which is not something I typically do. In this case, it is 100% worth it. Anne talks about the struggles she had getting this book published and indicates that perhaps current events such as the MeToo movement helped get it over the finish line from manuscript to novel. I think this reminds us all that perseverance is an essential trait for any fiction writer.