Salvaged by Madeleine Roux
From the Publisher: A woman on the run. A captain adrift in space. One of them is infected with an alien parasite. In this dark science fiction thriller, a young woman must confront her past so the human race will have a future.
Set in a future where human travel amid the stars is common, Salvaged is a mash-up Alien and The Expanse.
The main character, Rosalyn Devar, is a bit of a mess, by her own admission. She’s left behind a career as a bioengineer and a wealthy, influential family to be a space janitor that cleans up the aftermath of ill-fated research expeditions (i.e. the remains for former ship crews). But she can’t outrun her demons.
Called out for drinking on the job, she talks her way into a second chance by agreeing to salvage the Brigantine, a research vessel that’s “gone dark.” Devar arrives to find that reports of the Brigantine crew’s death are very much exaggerated.
The crew has been infected with an alien lifeform (nicknamed “Foxfire”) that’s smarter than your average microbe. This is where the comparison to The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, comes into play. Like Corey’s protomolecule, Foxfire seeks to consume the humanity of its hosts and join them like a hive mind.
Stranded on the diseased ship, Devar’s near-constant fear of contamination by Foxfire is unnerving. As her mysterious back story unfolds, it seems Devar was fated to encounter the tragic crew of the Brigantine.
Written in the third person and alternating from the perspectives of the main characters, the plot unfolds to reveal the circumstances that sealed the Brigantine’s fate and set Devar on her self-destructive course. Some bright spots of wry humor and a fledging awkward romantic attraction between Devar and the Brigatine’s, Captain Edison Aries, defer some of the bleakness. Unlike other infected crew members, the Aries has managed to fight the organism’s influence and keep his humanity, so far.
The narration by Emily Woo Zeller is excellent. She seamlessly moves between the different characters. If you’re a fan of science fiction horror and space opera, I highly recommend, Salvaged by Madeleine Roux. I’ll be sure to look for more from Roux in the future.