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The Luminous Dead

A Novel
Written by: Caitlin Starling
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo
Length: 14 hrs and 9 mins

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Publisher's Summary

"This claustrophobic, horror-leaning tour de force is highly recommended for fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation and Andy Weir’s The Martian." (Publishers Weekly)

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival. 

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck - enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother - meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane. 

Instead, she got Em. 

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials and has no qualms using them as a leash - and a lash. And Em has secrets, too....

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies - missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations - drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler that calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive - she must confront the ghosts in her own head. 

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

©2019 Caitlin Starling (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Brooks Talley
  • 2019-04-30

Decent but frustrating

The story was good enough to keep me listening until the end, and the narration is quite good given kind of weak material.

The book is frustrating because it is somewhat like the Martian, except the characters have the emotional maturity of drunk adolescents and respond to every adversity with some combination of panic, recrimination, and suicidal impulses.

Characters oscillate between love, hate, contempt, distrust, trust, respect, despair, you name it. Huge minute-by-minute swings that seem arbitrary and disappear as quickly as they appeared.

It’s a good premise for a book, but it’s not a great book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Yarn Owl Reads
  • 2019-06-13

Not for everyone but perfect for me

Some things to know going into this book: it has a slow-pace and a heavy, isolated atmosphere. It is character-driven and essentially only has two characters, who are messy and flawed. It’s a slice-of-life, if your life happens to involve dangerous and sketchy caving expeditions on another planet.

These are all things I absolutely loved. I loved seeing Gyre and Em develop both as individuals and in relation to one another. I loved that I felt curious for the majority of the book. I loved the tension of having an unrealizable narrator. I LOVED Gyre’s caving suit, which (other than the background planetary discussions) is the primary sci-fi focus. If these are all things you might also love, I highly recommend checking out this book.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • LivinInKY
  • Verona, KY USA
  • 2019-05-17

Not The Martian, Not Claustrophobic

I listened to this more than a month ago but didn’t write a review at the time because I felt it would have been too harsh. After a month, I still consider this to be the worst audiobook I have listed to from Audible. The best I can summarize is it features two codependent personalities, one a sociopath and one a masochist, who fall in love while considering the other to be either disposable or a murderer. I listened to the whole thing thinking there had to me a final moment of justice to make the journey worthwhile. SPOILER ALERT: There wasn’t. Sorry to give such a poor review of an authors efforts but I’d really like you to save your credits for almost anything else.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 2019-05-01

Good but not great

I actually enjoyed this book. The writing was good but at times it felt forced. Overall the concept was great and the narration was great. I am glad that I listen to it.