Book review: Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

Title: Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: 9 July 2019

Genre: Science fiction | Adult

Page extent: 320 pages


Goodreads blurb: A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up.

Salvation Day is a science fiction thriller with an edge of horror, and perhaps shouldn’t be read whilst there’s a deadly virus outbreak happening around the world….

Set in a world hundreds of years after the first Collapse of Earth, a new society has been born. Councils rose to fix the wrongs of the past. But outside of the Council’s protected cities lie groups of people either escaping the Councils and their control, or refugees desperately trying to enter the cities. One such group, a cult from the North American desert, have found their chance to escape to freedom in the skies. Years ago, House of Wisdom, one of the biggest ships ever built, was destroyed in a virus outbreak. But now, the cult members have a plan to reach the ship and rebuild it to support their colony. Except then they wake up what was waiting on the ship….

Going into Salvation Day, I think I expected more horror elements than we got. It’s definitely a science fiction novel first and foremost, with a focus on space travel and somtimes intricate details of the House of Wisdom ship and it’s workings. Whilst there is a focus on the virus and the outbreak that killed everyone, particularly in the first section of the novel I didn’t find myself as scared or unsettled as I would usually feel with such a concept. And I think it’s because the heavy sci-fi focus probably muted the horrory virus aspect. BUT! There are definitely moments where it began to get to more horror and I was racing through the book to see WTF was going on! Some of my favourites (as spoiler free as possible…):
– The bathroom door
– ‘What are you doing with the knife’
– The realisation on the Bridge

I really enjoyed the breaks between the POVs of extracts from the House of Mourning Star, one of the old Earth ships from when humans tried to escape the Collapse hundreds of years ago. This way of structuring a book is something I’ve been really enjoying lately, I just love how it gives the reader that sense of all knowing because it really makes everything so much scarier.

Something I wasn’t so sure of was the cult aspect. It kind of felt like it was out of a totally different novel – it just didn’t gel together with the really sci-fi element to me. The motivations didn’t seem to line up with the stakes they were involved with, and I’m not sure I was ever satisfied with why Adam (the cult leader) was doing any of what he was. Of the characters, Jas was my favourite. He was written well, his anxiety attacks around the ship felt genuine given his past. I also really loved the Jas/Zahra ending – it was probably one of my favourite moments of the book.

The political aspects I also think needed a bit more backstory. The SPEC and their desires felt randomly added to the end of the story, and I think that plotline would’ve worked better with a few more hints earlier in the story.

All in all, I enjoyed Salvation Day. Whilst it wasn’t as horrory as I expected from a virus story, it was still a tense and fast paced thriller and I really liked the ending!

3 thoughts on “Book review: Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

  1. Great review! I had similar thoughts while reading as well, I definitely was hoping for more horror than we got and was wanting more backstory on the events.

    If you want a similar infection horror story in space, check out Contagion by Erin Bowman (the duology is fantastic, but the sequel is less horror-focused) and Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda!

    Liked by 1 person

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