There are certain books that I add in the TBR list on a whim and especially if it’s cover interests me. One of those books is The Luminous Dead. Needless to say its a risky gamble. Lets get straight to the review.
Gyre Price is a caver in a far off planet from Earth. She takes up a project that pays her enough to get off it and hopefully find her mom who abandoned her at a young age but left a cryptic clue to find her. Desperate for a way out she even lies to get the project and ends up working for Em – the sponsor as well as the owner of a high tech company. At first she presumes the job is to find potential mineral deposits but within a couple of days she realises that something is fishy and asks Em to cut the bullshit and tell her what’s going on. Once the reveal is made she now has a choice. Will Gyre carry forward or cut short her expedition and come back home?
The story has great potential, I will give it that, but its mostly smoke without or very less fire. Besides a book described as “atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation” is bound to gain attention even though there’s no way you should put this book in the same breath. The whole story centres around two characters or make it three – including the cave, Em and Gyre. At first we are made to feel something is wrong and some deadly creature is out there waiting to rip into Gyre but the more she descends down the cave the more it becomes clear that other the banter between the two characters there’s nothing else going on. It borrows heavily from Area X trilogy with a similar plot line in that there’s been many expeditions in the past similar to the one undertaken by Gyre except here nothing feels urgent, eerie or even thrilling.
Its tough to write a story with just two characters and the author has done a pretty good job of it but everything feels repetitive as if we are going in circles that’s going nowhere and the reveal through midway feels hollow and more of an excuse to make the characters have something in common. I expected many possibilities for Em – if she was an AI or if she wasn’t whom she said she was or anything other than what’s on the page but it was just a sad background. Where as Gyre constantly whined and complained only to do exactly the opposite of what a professional caver would do. Sure the author gives her a ‘reasonable’ excuse to carry forward but nothing feels authentic or significant and more importantly why or for whom should I care?
Pros: Settings, writing, LGBTQ representation
Cons: Pace, Repetitive, too long
Bibliogyan Verdict: A disappointing read; could have been better.