Review: Dead Red: A Sci-Fi Horror Novel by Matthew Buza


Dead Red: A Sci-Fi Horror Novel by Matthew Buza.  Published in April, 2018, Kindle edition only.  I read this book because of The GoodReads Summer 2018 Challenge for the month of July had the challenge of finding a book that had red, white, or blue in the title.  Also in July, they had the challenge of finding a book that took place in space.  I am all for trying to shoe horn one book title in to as many categories as I can.  This was my pick.

Earth has finally begun to send small crews to Mars in order to start terraforming it for humans to live there.  First, the crew of Colony 1 arrives, shortly there after, Colony 2 will arrive.  Sometime after that, a Colony 3 will arrive.  Colony 1 lands and begins to build up the habitats for each team to live in.  Each colony will be separated by several miles, each with the task of exploring different parts of Mars.  Colony 1 and 2 barely have time to even get situated in their new living area before NASA contacts them with terrifying news… an asteroid will be passing between Mars and it’s moon, Phobos.  According to NASA, there will not be an impact, but the crews can’t help but feel a little bit of dread.  As they look toward the sky with anticipation, their worst fear happens.  The asteroid has a direct hit on the moon,  showering down meteorites all along the landscape of Mars.  With every impact, large and small, more and more Mars dust is stirred in to the air, causing a black out of communications not just with NASA but with each of the colonies as well.   While the crews try to dodge any debris falling on them, the inevitable happens and some of the crew die.  They think things can’t possibly get any worse.  They were wrong.  Something other then just the meteorites have fallen.   As the alien infection takes over, both Colony 1 and Colony 2 will have to fight just to survive.

I will start with the good.  First of all…. space zombies.  Ok, space zombies are just plain cool.  Technically they are Mars zombies, but I’m still going to just call them space zombies.  It was fun to see zombies in a new landscape like another planet.  It is also a pretty scary premise when you get down to it.  Humanity has sent a small crew, thousands and thousands of miles away from any help, and then something like zombies happen.  What do you do when you have very few resources to draw from- almost no  weapons or places to hide, no communications, no help, nowhere to run.  That is pretty scary.   Second, one of the main characters, Jade, had a crippling anxiety.  The author did a great job explaining what she felt and showing how it effected her physically and mentally.  You don’t always see it explained with such depth and emotion like in Dead Red.  Third, when we get the action, it is pretty decent.  Again, see the above comments about zombies in space.

Now for the bad.  Ok, the main thing I kept thinking, was, how the hell did Jade pass her psych exam in order to be an astronaut?? Seriously, she has such extreme panic attacks, that there is no way NASA would have let her anywhere near going in to space, let alone something as monumental as going to Mars.  And it’s not just after the shit hits the fan that she starts to have attacks either, she has high anxiety basically from page one.   The biggest problem though, by far, was the editing.  I’m not sure who edited this book, but they should have spent a little bit more time with it.  There were several typos and or words being left out, making the sentences kind of choppy or hard to read.  Also, there was just a lot of stuff that seemed like it could have been trimmed up a bit.  The first 30% of the book was sluggish because we had little bits and pieces of what the crew were doing as they landed and set up the habitat.  It wasn’t one flowing timeline, instead jumping a few days or weeks or possibly months in between what was written, but with no timestamps or dates.  It made it hard to follow and leaves the reader unsure of how much time is even passing.  The writing format was just a little odd and really messed with the flow of the book.   As if the editing and writing format wasn’t wonky enough, sometimes there were things that happen and we don’t even know why they happened.  How did the infection get from here to there?? We just get very wishy-washy maybes explanation on some of the events, if even that.  The only thing that is really explained is where they infection originates from.  The premise was so much fun, but all of the above was just so irksome that it kind of ruined a lot of the book.  Not to mention it slowed what could have been fun and fast way down! Sometimes I just felt like I didn’t even care anymore about what was going on and just wanted it to be over.  That’s never a good thing when your book does that!

This book was hard for me to rate.  I really, really, REALLY wanted to give it a higher rating.  Or at least give it a 3 star, right in the middle!  Again. Space. Zombies.  But it was just…. frustrating to the point of “I DON’T CARE ANYMORE“.  I think this book had a lot of promise, but what really holds it back is bad editing.  Such a shame.


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