Blog Tour: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review.

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Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.

Pitch Dark is another excellent addition to the YA space genre. I was kind of worried reading it so soon after Obsidio, but there was no problem mixing up these stellar (lol) space stories. If I had to create a comp for it, I'd say it's Pitch Black meets Aliens meets Halo meets Left 4 Dead meets Warcross meets Pacific Rim meets Tomb Raider meets Ella Enchanted meets National Treasure. Even though it shares elements will all these different stories, Pitch Dark stands unique and distinct and awesome all by itself!

I'm really excited about the increase in STEM-interested YA characters, especially girls. Laura (pronounced Lao-ra, and don't you forget it!) joins the sisterhood of hacker/computer science gals with Dimple Shah (When Dimple Met Rishi), Emika Chen (Warcross), Kady Grant & Ella Malikova (The Illuminae Files), and Elle Monroe (Say You'll Remember Me) as she uses her tech skills first to attempt to save herself from an insidious piece of technology that could hurt her family's future (and her own well-being) and then she works to save the remaining crews of the U.S.S. John Muir AND the Conquistador. I love that Tuck trusts her to help him and her family trusts that, even though there's some damning evidence that Laura may match the hacker that caused the crash, Laura would never do anything to harm her family or the colonies' chances of survival (aka the Muir). Teenage girls are so often underestimated in real life and in fiction so it was great that the characters who matter have complete faith both in Laura's skills and her very character (naturally, there are characters who constantly try to undermine her, but they suck anyway).

I really like the world-building in Pitch Dark. I think Courtney did a great job explaining what happened to the earth, especially both the environmental and political climates, and distinguishing between two main characters born roughly 400 years apart. Tuck and Laura have distinct voices and you can tell there's some difference between them according to interests and diction (although "wedge me" is one of the worst made up curses I've ever read. I much prefer Tuck's "frag" and a couple others. Inventing futuristic slang is really tricky, I'm sure, but wedge did NOT work for me). I love that Tuck loves "old" movies like Die Hard and Rambo and that his dialogue is peppered with pop culture references. These references usually date books, but when the book itself acknowledges that it's dated, I'm cool with it.

I think that the mourners are a really cool, unique kind of monster. I like that they weren't uniform in mutation, which makes sense because reasons. There are several different types of mourners, from the garden variety "normal" mourners to the slightly more powerful weepers to the vicious griefers to a few special edition monsters without a name due to their rarity. I think it shows a lot of ingenuity to be able to create distinct varieties of enemies such as these, and I think their ability to weaponize sound is really interesting.

One thing I love about books is reading the acknowledgements and any sort of author note first. I find that, even if I get slightly spoiled, these extra bits from the author in their own voice, not in the voice of the character, really sets the tone and helps me get in the right head space to read the book. I think Courtney's author note is powerful and meaningful. I love that speculative fiction can be used to address real life issues just as much as realistic issues books. After reading Courtney's note, I was able to truly grasp Laura's pride in her family and heritage. There are several moments in which racial issues are addressed, even in a futuristic context, and there's discussion about the distinction between rebellion against oppression and terrorism.

I applaud Courtney for using a wonderfully weird story like Pitch Dark to demonstrate the power of words, and I look forward to reading more of her work as well as more genre books in YA examining aspects of real life. After all, even after school specials are more interesting when they're set on a spaceship populated by monsters that will explode your organs with nothing more than sound waves.

About the Author:
A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels. Her debut novel, Shutter, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novels include the science fiction/horror mashup, Pitch Dark and Seven Deadly Shadows an urban fantasy set in Japan. (Co-authored with Valynne Maetani. HarperTeen 2018).

Courtney holds a degree in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five-pound cat with a giant personality.

Member HWA, SFWA, SCBWI; and SDCC Creative Professional.

Author Links:

3 winners will receive a signed finished copy of Pitch Dark & enamel pin with a quote important to the story. US only. Ends March 6 at 12 am EST!

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1 comment:

  1. Pitch dark sounds like a good read. Thanks for your review.