Book Review — Underneath

 

Title:  Underneath
Author:  Robbie Dorman
Genre:  Sci-Fi/Horror
Pages:  Paperback, 257
ISBN:  978-1-7336388-2-1
Opening Lines:  "Mary Jensen didn't expect to see the body of the person she replaced, but it waited for her at Research Station Tau."

Rating


"Mary Jensen, a trained medic, needs a new start and she's getting one at Research Station Tau, in remote Antarctica. Called in as an emergency replacement, Mary soon finds out Tau's mission: to find a lost elementary particle, deep down in the ice.

"Dr. Ian Schuller, the station lead, thinks the particle is the key to humanity's evolution. As they drill into the ice, complications arise and Mary starts to worry about his sanity. As he pushes harder and harder for results, the group begins to fracture.

"And then the hallucinations start.

"Something is in the ice, and it is changing them.

"Now Mary must surivive, and face what's underneath."

~ Jacket copy



The sci-fo genre is ripe for horror. Something about the isolation of space coupled with the unknown, unexplored depths. Drifting alone in the "vasty nothingness" allows the brain time to contemplate the unknown . . . The things just outside our reach. This is why the Alien franchise has done so well.  And why we have seen survival horror games dipping its toe into the uncharted depths of space in Dead Space.  However, what we never considered is the unknown, isolating element of space is right next door—Antarctica.

Sci-fi has never been my favorite genre.  And, if I am honest, I usually stay away from it.  Growing up with Star Trek and Star Wars, I do enjoy the casual stroll into sci-fi; however, it is never my first choice for a pleasure read.  The casual dystopian or contemplative fiction is okay and generally lauded, but . . . Sci-fi? I'll pass. 

This book, however, was an accident.  Viking wanted to know if he would like it, so he thrust it at me as soon as I finished Within These Walls.  Being more of a supernatural, haunted house, possession girl, Underneath is not my typical read.  

It is a slow burn.  However, the nature of an Antarctic drilling expedition is nothing a thrilling subject.  I think the author was trying to pull the reader into the isolation and tedium of the subject matter.  The horror element was less typical horror and more rooted in the sci-fi, isolation aspect.  It was also rooted in human nature.  

Many of the characters, including the protagonist, are static and flat.  However, since the story is focused on the particle, it might be the point.  It was hard to feel close to any of the characters or find something to root for.  Reading the book was similar to watching something happen with little to no stake/attachment.  The author did a good job building up to the climax, but it still felt as though something was missing.  Maybe a missed opportunity to pull the reader into the madness?  Pull more on the idea of cabin fever and the encroaching madness of isolation?

All in all, it is a short, quick read.  It was nice to break from my typical genre choices, and it was perfect to read during our first snowstorm of the season.  If you enjoy the atypical sci-fi and the isolation motif, this is a good one.  


  

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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.
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