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Vessel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 178 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
There were some awful typos, the worst of which was the repeated use of 'span' for 'spun. "Span' is NOT the past tense of 'spin': 'spun' is. Also the author uses 'breath' for 'breathe' several times. Nonetheless, a terrific space yarn. Highly recommended.
The sexual content was basically some characters have sex offstage. Same with the violence. People got hurt, but it wasn't shown. You found out about it later. I labeled that as "some violence" and "some sexual content" but you might consider that none.
Plot: so full of holes it was like reading Swiss cheese. Examples: (1) Russian cop gets DNA sample, wants to ID it. Sends it to the database. Gets a hit, but can't identify who the matching sample is from because it's deep classified US. So....the US loads DNA samples of all its most undercover people into a database, but they're all listed under "anonymous" or "John Doe"? Or there's a name, but it comes with a note to any who read it that it's really secret stuff & can't be revealed? Or the samples go into a super-secret database that the Russians can access, but they can't get at the names? Or...?? Or (2) Russian guy is desperately running for his life to try & stay away from the nasty US DOD bad guys, so he goes into deep cover by hiding at....his brother's house. Nope, nobody would EVER think to check the relatives of a guy in hiding. There are many, many similar examples like this. Also, when Sally is on the ISS she's able to do all sorts of research on any subject she dreams up, & the equipment she needs is always right there waiting for her, tho it's never actually described. Seems like the ISS would have to be bigger than JPL, CalTech & MIT put together for her to be able to have anything she wants at her fingertips. But maybe advanced physics research can really be done with nothing but a white board, a telescope, & a few basic bits of tech...I'm just a biologist. Or: some guy is wacko, they think he's probably suffering from "isolation sickness," so they decide that...some time alone will cure him. Alone. Isolation sickness. Brilliant!
And the ending was a real . . .I started to say "letdown," but I wasn't that far up by the time I got there anyway. I basically had to force myself to finish the book.
Characters: frequently do not behave the way actual humans would. Like, they get to the ISS where all sorts of weird/crazy/inexplicable stuff has been happening, & for the most part don't ask any of the obvious questions. Or if they do, they maybe ask them once then drop it, or drop a mild query a day or two later then drop it. And they seem to bounce between stoic bravery & total hysteria rather easily. There's all these mental breakdowns going on, ostensibly because of the alien ship, but our heroine Sally spends several weeks alone in the ISS right next to it without going wacko, for reasons never even hinted at. Sally is supposed to be a communications specialist, but she sure doesn't communicate very well to other humans...perhaps that's why she works on SETI.
Basically I found this to be a silly, tedious slog. Its main entertainment for me was reading my snarky remarks from the first time I attempted to get thru it, and gave up near the end. I found I agreed with my earlier critiques; my impression of the book did not improve after putting it down & returning to it months later. I really do not care about the characters or the plot enough to spend any time or money on any sequel.
I felt like there may have been a multi-layered use of the word "vessel" at work; being subjected to the alien infinite (at least to Sally's perspective) knowledge is painful and overwhelming for the human mind. Thus there is the need for a human vessel capable of mentally bridging the gap between the two species--which is currently shortly fatal to the human-- as well as the possibility of a future vessel between the species' identities via Sally's child. That was a sudden plot twist I had not seen coming. So while Bales (and I listened to the audio version so may not be spelling his name correctly) ostensibly chose Sally for her communications specialty because she had useful skills, he may have really been choosing simply a female vessel for the future offspring of the alien-human combination. I didn't feel as sure of why she was the one chosen for that but ultimately it doesn't matter. Possibly Bales, whose sanity was questioned by the end, had gone off the deep end because of the knowledge he had due to his alien parentage and the human inability to handle the mental load of such knowledge. It was quite interesting that the author chose to insert Sean as Sally's future parenting partner; Sally is clearly impacted by her experience with the alien/Mikhail but hopefully Sean's influence can help keep her sane so that she doesn't share Ruth's fate of being in a facility the rest of her life. While I didn't fully appreciate Ruth's importance during the story--it was seeming to get bogged down by that point--once it all came together at the end I did appreciate the twist of her being Bales' mother. Suddenly the detailed bits and pieces had a different perspective and I realized there were red herrings, such as the fact that Bales had put a bomb on the craft.
The author's portrayal of the "black hole"-like vessel sighted by the space station astronauts was very interesting. The astronauts could not really describe it, could not give it a definite shape or dimensions. Whenever the topic of the vessel came up, it was like their minds could not focus on it and they went to other topics. During the Mikhail-Sally exchanges it is described as more of a gateway than an actual ship, a description of great possibilities for the author and the reader. Instead of the alien-human interaction one might expect from this type of story--eventually turning into a dominate-the-humans action story--this one stayed mostly in the cerebral realm, unless you were one of the unfortunate astronauts, or Alex or Sean who were beaten, etc. I enjoyed that twist. This was definitely a different story from what I expected and I enjoyed it. Not many books really make me think like this one did with its ending, and I'm glad I was in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. If I had been restless/needing an action story with little detail I would have been frustrated; instead I was able to stick with the story until the twists at the end that turned all my preconceived ideas on their sides. I'd definitely read something else by this author.
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