Book Review: Vessel

Good sci-fi book that ended before the story did.

Recently I have had a hard time finding a book that I actually wanted to finish. I’ve abandoned two books by good authors that didn’t hold my interest. I started to think it was me, but then I picked up Vessel by first-time author Lisa R. Nichols, and I was immediately drawn in by the story.

Vessel is the story of Catherine Wells, a lone surviving astronaut, returning from a failed mission to a faraway planet. Her unexpected return plunges her into personal and professional turmoil. But this isn’t merely a human interest story. Something went terribly wrong on the mission and nobody knows what, including Catherine. Now she has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

Vessel was an enjoyable read with engaging characters (something lacking in other books I’ve recently read), and a story interesting enough to keep my interest to the end. Wells wove flashback scenes from the mission in with the main storyline, creating a slow-burn effect that was effective. All in all, this book was a fun read, but not without some issues.

First, the characters sometimes behaved in ways that were out of character. For example, a top NASA administrator stakes out the home of the main character because he is suspicious of her. I had a hard time buying that. I don’t mind suspending reality when I read fiction, but the characters have to be believable.

On another occasion, one of the male astronauts who is spurned by a female crew member en route to a new planet, sulks the whole time, even when they are the first human being to set foot on an alien world. That stretched the bounds of credibility in my mind. There were a few other implausible scenarios, but, like the two mentioned, nothing I couldn’t get passed.

Second, the book didn’t end, it just stopped. There are two things necessary for a good novel, an enjoyable journey with a satisfying ending. Wells accomplished the first, but not the second. While the author resolved some issues, she kicked the can down the road on the main storyline. My guess is, there’s a sequel coming, but I would have preferred more resolution in this one first.

I liked Vessel and would recommend it to anyone who is fan of this genre. I look forward to a sequel by this author if one is in the works.

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