“Vessel” by Andrew J. Morgan, audiobook narrated by Victor Bevine, appears to be a blending of various genres and sub genres such as: science fiction, first contact, detective procedural, and government conspiracy in a single well-written action-packed thriller. The book includes aliens, life, death, and a little bit of romance along the way. There were a few intense periods and a few where the book was a bit slow. Overall the book lacked humor which can be leveraged to relieve tension, but I think this was done on purpose to emphasis the seriousness of the story. It starts off like the movie Arrival, moves into something resembling the Sphere, with a few elements of science taken from Interstellar. Overall it worked well and I think many who like science fiction requiring deeper thought and focus will enjoy Vessel.
I will say up front that I think the book attempted to go down too many different rabbit holes or plot lines. At times, it was successful and at others not so much. I would have enjoyed the book more if it focused mainly on the core aspects of the mysterious vessel and less on the clandestine government activity or detective pieces; although some of that was necessary to tell the entire story. It seemed there were parts that just were not necessary to the overall story and these seemed to complicated things more than they helped.
I was very impressed with the solid research, writing, and character development compared to other science fiction writers I have listened too. I am not in the space industry, but I felt the author did a good job of educating and making me feel like I was. The opening launch sequence was one that had my complete attention and on the edge of my seat along with some of the docking events, etc. The author’s knowledge of the International Space Station (ISS) and how one gets around was well described and thought out. The various modules and their use aligned with their actual purpose. I finished this book feeling a little bit smarter than when I began.
For parents and younger readers, the book does contain some intense graphic violence along with the use of vulgarity. Although vulgar language is used, it is peppered through the book and not used heavily. Some well described scenes of violence may be overly graphic for younger readers. However, violence is not used excessively to produce a level of shock, but more to help describe what is happening in the scene.
Regarding the book’s narration, I really liked the voice of Victor Bevine. It was rich, crisp, and clean. With over 230 narrations at the time of this review, he is no novice. He was able to make the narration of the various characters (male and female) along with their accents seem simple. Often while listening, I believed there were different narrators voicing the characters, it was done that well. He had very good inflection during the times of action or suspense, and also able to keep the reader engaged during the slower points in the book. I have a few other books in my wish list by this author, that I want to get to after listening to this book.
In summary, Vessel is a deep thought provoking science fiction story which takes many different avenues but arrives nicely at the finish line. The ending was a surprise for me, and I think it will be for many others. Could some of the book been trimmed and still been good, I think so, but do not get dismiss this book if you are one that likes a good contemporary science fiction story with a few nice twists.