Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Review: One Way by S.J. Morden

Title: One Way
Author: S.J. Morden
Pages: 330
ISBN: 9781473222564
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 15 February 2018
Genre: Science Fiction | Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher


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Frank Kittridge is serving life for murdering his son's drug dealer, so when he's offered a deal by Xenosystems Operations - the corporation that owns the prison - he takes it.

He's been selected to help build the first permanent base on Mars. Unfortunately, his crewmates are just as guilty of their crimes as he is.

As the convicts set to work on the frozen wastes of Mars, the accidents multiply.

Until Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all...

S.J. Morden's One Way starts off slow and grows in intensity as the stakes escalates. It's an atmospheric read where the Mars setting plays just as much a role as the cast of characters. Morden manages to capture the desolate, inhospitable Martian environment perfectly. An environment where every breath counts and your life depends on those around you. Every mistake could be deadly. Every step could be your last.
"His life was measured in breaths: the harder he worked, the fewer he had left." (p 122)
There are moments of beauty and touching camaraderie among the crew of convicts. Just as it seems they have overcome the worst of the obstacles thrown in their path it becomes clear that the deadly accidents on the expedition are anything but. When Earth is millions of miles away where do you run to? Where can you hide? Who can you trust?

The main protagonist, Frank, is an interesting, sympathetic character and becomes a caretaker for the rest of the crew. The other characters aren't fleshed out all that much and for the most part they felt disposable, which is the only real downside to the story. I never really cared all that much about them.

The brutal conclusion will have you at the edge of your seat, holding your breath in anticipation to see how far someone will go to survive. The greater conspiracy at work, although not entirely unexpected, provides an interesting twist and ponders the value of life in more ways than one.

The Verdict:
S.J. Morden's One Way is a brutal, claustrophobic, murder mystery set on Mars. While things start of slow it picks up pace, and soon you'll be enthralled by the character's struggle for survival in all its paranoid glory. An exciting read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Recommended!

The rating: 7/10 (Very good)

Thanks to Charlene from Jonathan Ball Publishers for the review copy.

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