4 out of 4 stars
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Out of all the sci-fi novels I’ve ever read, Containment Breach by WM. A. Yandell is one of the most unique. Told from the point of view of a scientist involved with a top-secret, militaristic society, the story almost seems like a mix between the sci-fi and dystopian genres. Except for some confusing formatting which makes it slightly hard to follow, this book is a combative, high-stakes adventure that should satisfy even the most critical reader.
Dr. Walt Smithton is a high-clearance research scientist working in a research facility with a strict hierarchy, where the researchers experiment with creating and developing synthetic life forms in a highly secretive and secure environment. When the government sends in military and official mind readers to investigate the facility for no particular reason, he becomes nervous that they’ll find out his secret. However, his secret is not the mind readers’ focus. They’re looking for the perfect group to send into space to help clean up a very expensive and deadly mess – an experiment has gotten loose inside a spaceship and has been systematically killing the entire crew. Dr. Smithton and his group must find a way to exterminate these Creatures to ensure that they never make it to Earth. This task proves much more difficult than originally anticipated, because the Creatures are sentient and constantly learn and develop to protect themselves against all attacks.
The only issues I had with this book were relatively minor. The author uses a no-chapter format that is clearly explained in the beginning, separating scenes with asterisks instead of chapter headings. Despite the heads-up, I found myself getting confused at times because I missed the scene change and had to go back to the last asterisk. Also, the beginning of the book doesn’t seem to have the best connection to the rest of the story, feeling more like a long introduction that takes up the first third of the book. However, it does establish an important plot element and still sets the stage for the rest of the story, so I don’t regard it as a major problem.
Now, on to what I really liked: The descriptions in this book were amazing. The author was very good at giving just enough information about the escaped Creatures that it worries the reader, but at the same time keeping back information and revealing it gradually throughout the story. This creates the best feeling of suspense and fear for the characters in the reader, and is something that not many authors are able to do very well. I kept thinking throughout the book what the story would look like as a movie, and I think this book might be a good candidate for a film adaptation. Additionally, the interactions between the characters in this story are fascinating. Each of the characters, especially the main characters, have clearly defined personalities, goals, reactions, and weaknesses that distinguish them from the others. And the politics, the subtle maneuvering between the warring ambitions made me feel as if the entire story was a glorified game of chess, with each player trying to out-think their opponent.
Overall, there were a couple of minor issues, and some of the plot points were semi-cliché, but I think that Containment Breach was a really great book. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars for its captivating storyline, characters, and writing style. If you are a science fiction, dystopian, or action/adventure reader, you will probably love this book. It’s a different type of story than the usual books in these genres, and as such opened my mind to the amazing possibilities that soon could break through the haze of identical and stereotypical plots in these genres.
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