Cover Image: Salvation Day

Salvation Day

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Member Reviews

This was a DNF for me. Sounds like it should have been great, but the plot was slow and the dialogue was obnoxious.
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This was a very exciting sci-fi thriller. It wasn't predictable or obvious, which is a common problem with books of this type.
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While Salvation Day is a solid effort by author Kali Wallace with an absolutely killer premise--terrorists force a handful of innocents to help them infiltrate a derelict ghost-spaceship, unaware of the creepy danger that awaits them--the execution could have been stronger. For me, the problem was the pacing. Normally, I love a real page-turner but in this case, that rapid forward movement came at the price of world-building and character. It was difficult to get a real grasp on how this future earth came to be, especially its stratified society.  As well, I would have appreciated getting to know Zahra and Jas a bit more before all hell breaks loose so I could be more invested in their struggle.

3.5 stars
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I was really excited to read this one. I love stories about viruses, space ships and great main characters but unfortunately this one just didn’t deliver for me. I felt like the book was too long, and it just didn’t hold my attention for long. I also didn’t connect with any of the characters which made it hard for me to keep reading. Overall it was an okay book, but just not a good fit for me.
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After reading Wallace's previous book, I was very intrigued with this one, nevermind the premise alone catching my interest.... and it didn't disappoint. This space opera was clever, the dual POV was very fitting to the story and didn't feel cluttered. It was a bit of a shock remembering how young these characters were, they felt much more mature than expected. Overall, this gave me drama and intrigue and a good time.
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Thank you NetGalley for always coming thru with some great books but the story line has promise but the endless dialog is repetitive and tiresome. The intriguing discussions of the alien civilization and the fate of the colonists are minimal. It's kinda like he was in a rush to finish the book, The ships mystery is not effectively developed. The author shows promise but this book does not fulfill them and hope he will try again.
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I love a good space thriller adventure!  Mysterious virus and a creepy space station? Count me in! The back story and world building are well done and the opposing points of view really work here.  My one critique would be the ending.  It seems abrupt and more like the author needed the story to end rather than the grand closing I think it was meant to be.
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What A Story!

I'll get this out of the way to begin with.  This story reminded me of a modern day (actually futuristic) retelling of Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain - which was one of my favorite books growing up and pushed me into my love for Science Fiction, Bio-Thrillers, and a new genre to that time Technothrillers. Salvation Day by Kali Wallace was an excellent combination of all of these genres and will stand up as one of my favorite books in 2019.

So, sitting down and re-reading the synopsis has me quickly realizing that this is going to be a hard review to write without spoiling anything.  If I end up going off course, I apologize, and if I'm vague, that's why.

Salvation Day tells the story of a group of people who have been forgotten.  They were either outcast into the wastelands of the deserts in the former United States or they have chosen to live there because of one reason or another. They are seeking a new place to live... a Salvation Day you might say.  They set their sites onto a derelict ship that (slight spoiler here) took the lives of every member of the ship except for one (spoiler over). But this ship holds the secrets of its dead crew along with many, many more.

The overall storytelling that jumped back and forth between characters but also between transmissions and other communication was really up my alley.  I thought that it jumped around just enough as to not be confusing but to tell stories within stories.

When you finally get towards the end and the entire set up starts to make sense - I hope you're as shocked as I am.  This book had me hook, line, and sinker throughout and still managed to surprise me.
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Actually 4 1/2 stars.. 
Zahra and her fellow followers of Adam Light sneak aboard a shuttle heading to Armstrong City on the moon, posing as members of the Space and Exploration Commission (SPEC). One of them is a pilot (a former member of SPEC long ago) who changes course and heads for the House of Wisdom. 

The other passengers on the shuttle are scholars going to spend the term in Armstrong City and Professor M’Baga, a faculty escort. Also on the shuttle is the only survivor of House of Wisdom, Jaswinder Bhattacharya, and his friend, Baqir Nassar (who came from the wasteland himself as a child). 

Jaswinder’s (called Jas the rest of the book) mother had designed the engines for the ship while his father had solved the root module salt accumulation problem for large-scale microgravity agriculture (and tended the gardens on the ship, too). Zahra’s father was accused of the massacre from a virus on the ship, which caused her mother to flee to the wastelands with her daughter.

When they head for the House of Wisdom, trailing the Moon in its own orbit and Zahra’s bunch pulls out a gun, things escalate. The shuttle is destroyed, and they must go through the ship, encountering the frozen bodies of the dead. The virus is still alive and what happened years ago, begins again.

Written in first person, different sections are told by Zahra, Jas, and a third one from translations of fragments spoken in Archaic Mandarin Chinese found on the probe UC33-X sent from a group of people from Earth from an alien world. The story is well written, and it kept me reading. The storyline is hard science fiction, but it is also horror, ala Alien, The Thing, and even Pitch Black, with strong hints of apocalyptic zombie films and books.
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The nitty-gritty: A thrilling story set in space with elements of horror and mystery, well-drawn characters, and even a cautionary message or two.

Kali Wallace, where have you been hiding? Salvation Day is Wallace’s adult debut, if I’m not mistaken. She’s written for middle grade and YA audiences in the past, which might be the reason I haven’t read any of her previous books. But wow, I am certainly going to check out her backlist after absolutely loving Salvation Day! This book has it all: a fascinating take on alien invasion, well drawn and developed characters, perfect pacing, a tense and horrific idea that kept me on the edge of my seat, and stellar writing. All these elements together make this one of my favorite recent science fiction stories.

The story takes place in the future after an event called the Collapse, when humans were forced into space exploration. We’re introduced to two main characters, and the chapters alternate between the two points of view. First is Zahra, a young woman who has been drawn into the circle of a psychopath named Adam, a man who has gathered several hundred people together to form a community of followers. Adam speaks out against the Councils, who—he says—ignore the plight of refugees unable to become citizens. Adam has hatched a bold and dangerous plan: he wants to take control of an abandoned spaceship called the House of Wisdom which is big enough for his “family” to live out their lives in peace. The only drawback? Ten years ago, the entire crew of the ship died from an unidentified viral outbreak, and the ship has been under quarantine ever since. Adam has put Zahra in charge of a small crew who will board the ship and make sure the virus is contained, preparing it for the arrival of Adam’s flock, who are headed toward the House of Wisdom aboard a ship called the Homestead. 

The other point of view is a young man named Jaswinder Bhattacharya, the only survivor of the House of Wisdom outbreak. Forced into an evac ship by his mother before she died, Jas lived to tell the tale, but he lost both his parents on the ship. Part of Zahra’s plan involves taking Jas hostage in order to gain access to the ship, since he’s the only person alive with the necessary genetic signature to get past the security drones.

But when they arrive with Jas and a few other hostages in tow, things do not go as smoothly as they expected. The ship is still littered with the bodies of the dead, and even worse, the virus turns out to be much more malevolent than anyone realized—and it’s still on the ship.

I’m going to stop my recap there, even though there is a whole lot more going on in this story. Wallace creates a spectacularly creepy atmosphere, from the hundreds of dead bodies floating throughout the House of Wisdom, to the discovery of what the virus really is, to the snippets at the start of each chapter of recordings from the House of Wisdom as the virus started to break out, as well as an older ship called the Mournful Evening Song, which might have been responsible for the outbreak in the first place. Stories set in deep space are already terrifying to me, but when you add in elements like a deadly virus that no one understands, as well as a bunch of characters who are using each other and hiding secrets, that terror multiplies quickly.

The author puts her characters through a lot, and this is one of those stories where you need to be careful who you grow attached to, because there is no guarantee that person will survive. Salvation Day isn’t just about the action and the fast-paced plot, it’s also about the emotional angst and growth of the characters. Jas and Zahra start out on opposing sides, but what they find on the House of Wisdom forces them to work together to solve the mystery of what happened to the crew. They each have poignant family stories as well. Zahra is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her fifteen-year-old twin siblings, Anwar and Nadra, who are also caught up in Adam’s web. In fact everyone on the Homestead is in grave danger, it turns out, so the fact that Zahra has loved ones who find themselves in a life or death situation through no fault of their own, makes her decisions even more stressful. And Jas confronts his terrible past on board the House of Wisdom, which I won’t go into because I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

For me, the weakest part of the story—and trust me when I say this is a very minor complaint—was the character and story arc of Adam. Adam grated on me the moment he opened his mouth, which in retrospect was probably what the author intended. He’s a classic example of a volatile cult leader, charismatic when he needs to be, but full of rage and hatred when his followers try to defy him. I thought his dialog was ridiculous and over the top, and as a villain he wasn’t very nuanced. But he does serve a purpose, because ultimately Zahra needs a reason to grow a backbone and make her own decisions, and when she finally opens her eyes and sees what Adam really is, it’s a wonderful moment of character growth for her.

Several big events converge at the end of the story, which made the last twenty-five percent even more thrilling. You think the stakes are already high for our characters, but then Wallace raises them even more. She deftly handles a complicated ending and wraps everything up fairly neatly, ending on a contemplative note that deals with whether telling the truth about the events on the ship is the right thing to do. Salvation Day surprised me again and again, and I can hardly wait to see what Kali Wallace does next.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
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Salvation Day should be my jam. After all, there are very few things about a space thriller I would not like. In fact, I still say the premise is a good one. Plus, the execution of the story is decent. It is the ending where Kali Wallace loses me. I wanted more answers than I got, while some of the answers left much to be desired. There is a major event that feels like an easy out rather than the grand gesture Ms. Wallace intends it to be. Moreover, I never connected with any of the characters to care about their fates. She doesn't flesh them out enough, so they remain one-dimensional and nothing but characters in a story. The virus twist is a fun one in all its aspects. Had Ms. Wallace spent more time on that, it would make a better story. Instead, she focuses on the politics at play in this futuristic world of hers that is not very interesting with characters who are less so. It is a major disappointment.
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*thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC for an honest review*

4 / 5 stars

Had a really easy time getting to know and loving the characters. Would I like to get to know them somewhere less creepy? Hell yeah. But did I love the way that the author constructed their whole space adventure? Hell to the yeah! Super creepy meets scifi space drama of my dreams with a hint of thriller, high stakes, and oh did I forget to mention...REALLY SCARY MOMENTS! Totally read this at night when I shouldn’t and ended up glancing at my open door. The tension was real and you best believe that my door was shut ASAP!
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This is a thriller told from the viewpoint of two different people.  Each has a very different point of view as we follow them on a ship that was the victim of a very big disaster.  What happened and why is what drives the plot.  Interesting characters, back story and world building.  Somehow it makes everything very different.
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Sci-Fi Horror? Oh yes, please! It’s also written by a woman? Just gimme, now! When one of my fellow reviewers turned me on to Salvation Day, I requested it from Netgalley pretty much immediately. I’m always on the lookout for some sci-fi horror and this looked like it would fit the bill.

Unfortunately, for just over half the book, Salvation Day and I did not get along. It isn’t that the book is badly written – because it’s not – but I didn’t like the most of the characters introduced early on, I had problems with the whole obvious ‘family’ thing, et cetera. I had pretty much given up hope on liking the book at all when things finally started to turn around. However, when it takes half of the book to hook you, it’s hard to be enthusiastic about the rest of the read.

Ultimately, Salvation Day was a decent read. There’s plenty of action basically from the get-go, characters to root for, characters to hate, and there is -indeed- the promised science-fiction horror element. If you’re the box-checker type, you’ll also want to note that there are LGBTQ+ characters, a desperate race against time, and a dramatic finale including a reluctant hero.

Unfortunately, it just feels like it’s missing that spark of magic that turns it from something technically fine to a true pleasurable reading experience.
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After reading the description for Salvation Day, I thought I had a good idea of what I was in for: a futuristic sci-fi horror, with an outbreak scenario, maybe even possibly some crossover into zombie territory. I think I was picturing something like Dead Space in my mind. Well, what the book actually turned out to be was something quite different, though the story still ended up being a thrilling and cinematic experience.

Around a decade ago, the space exploration vessel House of Wisdom became abandoned after a deadly infectious virus was released on board, killing everyone on the ship. The sole survivor was a boy, Jaswinder Bhattacharya, the son of a very prominent family in the political and scientific community. Subsequently adopted by his aunt, Jas spent the next ten years pretending he could not remember what happened on the House of Wisdom and has tried to keep a low profile ever since. Meanwhile, the spaceship, which has become massive tomb, is left drifting in space guarded by drone missiles that would destroy anything that dared approach.

Now older, Jas is about to embark on his first journey back into space since the incident, along with a small group of his friends and fellow students. But unbeknownst to him, he is the key to a plan hatched up by a cult who want to use his genetic signature to bypass the security measures guarding House of Wisdom, which they mean to transform into a new home for their people. Zahra is one of the members of this cult, acting upon the orders of their leader Adam. She and her team were supposed to hijack Jas’ shuttle and kidnap the young man, forcing him to help them access the ship. No one was supposed to get hurt, or at least that was Zahra’s original understanding. But not long after they took over of the shuttle, everything started going wrong. Not surprisingly, when they reach the House of Wisdom, they also find bodies. However, what Zahra finds disturbing is not the presence of the dead, but the way that they died, which does not appear consistent with what was reported by the government. She and her team had been inoculated against the virus that supposedly killed everyone, but the threat they are faced with is something else entirely.

The story is told via two main perspectives—Zahra and Jas. Kali Wallace does a fantastic job balancing their POVs, giving readers enough background into her characters’ lives so we can sympathize with them and understand what drives them. Despite them being very different and having conflicting motives, I felt connected to both protagonists. It’s hard to say whose chapters I enjoyed following more, as I thought their lives were equally fascinating to read about. And once Zahra and Jas realized that they would be better off working together to survive, that’s when the character development and relationship dynamics grew even more intriguing.

As I said before, the way the story is presented is also very cinematic, and there were certain scenes that made me feel like I was watching a movie. Periodically, bits and pieces of conversation and reports from the House of Wisdom passengers’ last moments are also injected into the narrative, heightening the tensions and spooky atmosphere aboard the derelict ship. In addition, the world-building helps set Salvation Day apart from other sci-fi offerings that feature similar themes. The politics of this world are complex, involving a complete restructuring of the society following an apocalyptic event. Spawned in the aftermath of the collapse are a number of different government factions, resistance organizations, displaced refugees and other outsider groups like cults and extremist movements. All these opposing forces have created uncertain conditions and unique challenges in people’s lives.

Then there are the more pressing, immediate threats facing our characters once they make it aboard the House of Wisdom. Hidden agendas, betrayals, and secrets help keep the plot engaging, as if the dangers around them and the possibility of being infected with a deadly parasite weren’t enough. I honestly didn’t expect much from this book beyond the virus angle, but as the story gradually expanded in scope, I was drawn into a plot that was way more nuanced than I had originally thought, and I ended up being quite satisfied with the crux and conclusion.

At the end of the day, I would recommend Salvation Day if you enjoy sci-fi thrillers with a touch of horror, and I thought Kali Wallace did an especially good job at the creating an atmosphere of suspense and claustrophobia! Glad I took the chance on this one.
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This review was originally posted on  Books of My Heart

Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Salvation Day is a space opera thriller set in the future.  The story is told in alternating chapters by the two main characters. Zahra and Jas are linked by their past and now in the present.  They have never met really, but some of the same events are key to both their lives.

I had a little of the first book syndrome where I try to understand things as the world is being developed, along with characters at the same time. Since the world is very unlike real life now, it took awhile to grasp the state of the world and what was happening. Indeed, Zahra was functioning under a misapprehension for years as was much of the world.

Once I settled in, the plot is really very clever. There are some interesting twists. There is action, suspense, politics, and people who care about each other. I was very proud of Zahra and Jas by the end. For their youth, they were quite capable and compassionate. Both my mind and heart were engaged in reading. There are lessons here for today's government. I recommend this one.

Not thinking about how insidiously easy it was to convince oneself that the burden of proving one's humanity rested entirely on the shoulders of those in need of help, and not on those who could help but chose not to.
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Depending on what time zone you're in, it's either this book's birthday ... or it isn't ... and I'm OKAY WITH SQUISHY TIME PARADOXES ALRIGHT?

Now that that's out of the way, I thought I ought to celebrate this book the way it deserves to be celebrated, which is a lot, and possibly with a late-night binge-watch of the remaining "Stranger Things" episodes in my queue. I mean, claustrophobic body horror in space isn't all that different from claustrophobic body horror in a 1980s basement, is it?

This book went down my gullet in a blaze of textual glory, a damn fine evening spent camping in the Idaho woods while a bachelorette party on one side, made up of totally sloshed femmes with opinions about *other* femmes, just *kept on talking* about whether or not it's okay to kiss your parents on the mouth until three in the morning––and a pack of weird competitive belchers set up camp on the other side with their five-hundred-pound growly direwolf, Hannibal. Okay, so I was a little pissed that one of my Netflix downloads that I'd *specifically downloaded to drown out weird campers* didn't finish downloading, leaving me marooned with nothing but the sweet swan song of eight drunk campers for a soundtrack, but this book was a more than fair substitute.

Lots of brain matter! On walls! In space! Lots of bodies! And suspiciously cold spaceships! And relatable hijackers! In space!

Okay, so maybe the initial reading conditions weren't perfect. But being kept up until three DID mean that I got to finish this book and pass it on to a friend the next morning over New Orleansian brunch at an "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"-themed Coeur D'Alenian restaurant. And while I wouldn't quite say this is "a fun romp! the perfect beach read! timely and resonant! a light read for a weekend in the woods!" it *is* compelling and packed with the kind of details that matter to me, a queer person who happens to love the occasional body-horror-in-space kind of book. I'm waffling on a fifth star mostly because I'm still sleep-deprived and those campers have ruined at least a week of sleep hygiene, which more or less turns me into a walking horror show of bitterness, but also because I think there was some more character development that I'd like to see from future books. And I will be reading future books from Kali Wallace, that's for sure.

A competent read and perfect for throwing into backlit rings of drunk partiers while screaming "LEARN SOME CAMPING ETIQUETTE, BIATCH"
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This was such a high energy, eerie adventure through space. Our main characters, Zahra and Jaswinder, had incredibly differing motivations for everything that happened, and it was easy to relate to both of their stances, though as the reader, it's clear to see that Zahra is being manipulated. Zahra is a member of what basically amounts to a cult which operates under the guise of "helping/saving" (don't they all?) Jas has absolutely no plans to throw himself into any sort of conflict, but when your ship is taken hostage... well, we do what we must to survive.

And that is the crux of it: these people are all trying to survive, but there is so much that they don't know. Obviously a good portion of the book is devoted to uncovering the myriad of things that have been shoved under the rug, things that neither character was ever aware of. And ultimately, there are a lot of questions about who they can and can't trust.

It's such an action-packed book (it would make an incredible movie, by the way, someone should get on that) that you definitely won't be bored as you try to figure out what our main characters will discover next. The entire vibe of the book really nails an eerie, creepy ambiance that fits perfectly with the world the author created. My one qualm was that I didn't feel as much of a connection with the characters as I would have liked too. The side characters especially felt a bit disposable. But overall, the plot and the unfurling secrets and discoveries were intense enough to keep me well entertained!

Bottom Line: Definitely a plot driven novel, the action and mystery kept me on the edge of my seat.
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A sci fi take that travels to the stars filled with mystery , intrigue and thrills . It feels there are few too true science fiction novels these days but this one fits the bill . For over 10 years house of wisdom has orbited the earth protected . Carrying over 500 corpses with one survivor as a result of a virus two factions fight over what to do with this . Lies and coverups make this a thrilling sci fi novel
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Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Science fiction has always been used to tell stories that apply to today, to make comments on our current, often in settings that could be our future. And sometimes those tales grab you and force you to think about so much more than what is written on the page. Salvation Day by Kali Wallace is one of the stories.

From the moment I received my advance copy of Salvation Day I was all in. It's billed as a story with mystery, horror, science fiction, and survival. And I was intrigued by the author. Kali Wallace has a PhD in geophysics and uses her love of science to help build her story.  As an environmental scientist, I was intrigued. And not disappointed. Please forgive my vagueness in the coming paragraphs, but I don't want to spoil anything for you. 

Salvation Day is one of those rare novels that gives you room to breathe while also stealing your breath. The harrowing moments on space craft had me feeling claustrophobic. The clues to the mystery are brilliantly dropped before you leading you to discover the answer before it is revealed. And yet somehow the reveal is that much more astonishing and meaningful. 

But the book is so much more than the horror and the mystery. At its core, it is about humanity, about our past and the lessons we do or don't learn.

"The past is a mirror and only by examining it can we examine ourselves."

This story is about humanity's survival. And about how humanity, and governments, treat others. There are lessons and warning about immigration, destruction, fear, isolation, cults, and more. And despite the horrors and cruelties in this book, there is hope and there is love. There is love in this story, between two males. And it is natural and just there, as it is in our world. 

Kali Wallace has written a book I loved and devoured. It's one I can and will read again and again. I highly recommend you read it too.

Salvation Day is available from Berkley on July 9, 2019.
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