Waking up from cryo-sleep in a derelict ship on a deserted planet with only three recent trainees as company isn't exactly getting the day off to a good start. Although his sleeper unit is labeled as belonging to an admiral, he doesn't have the uniform or look like a high level officer. With the recent cease-fire, it's easy to suspect that he is a spy responsible for the sabotage of the ship - except he wouldn't want to get himself stranded outside known space with no way home. So suspicious Lt. Deilani, techie Ensign Nils, and negotiator Private Salmagard have to put their trust in the "admiral" whatever their reservations may be. The four of them have to go from being stowed in sleepers in their underwear to gearing up and surviving a hostile environment long enough to be rescued. Just another day in the service, right? I read this straight through from start to finish. It was suspenseful, the action never stopped, and had a brilliant twist at the end.
Parts of it reminded me of The Martian with the continual need to find solutions to problems like oxygen, rations, establishing communication, hacking equipment for uses other than what it was built for, and finding a way to make it off the planet. Other parts were very reminiscent of "Aliens." There are mysteriously missing colonists, small arms fire and corrosive damage inside the colony ship, records of some sort of problem in med bay, etc. And when one of the trainees suggests that the ship is empty because all of the colonists are at a town meeting, I snorted out loud. (I could just picture Hudson hunched over his laptop scanning for trackers.) And if that were not enough, there are even hints of the Stainless Steel Rat or Miles Vorkosigan in the way that the "admiral" is able to convince the trainees to follow his lead.
Between the riffs on favorite books and movies of the genre and the original ideas and presentation, it is a very satisfying read. Sci-fi fans should keep an eye out for Sean Danker and future Evagardian tales.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.