Book Reviews

Proxima Bound

Humanity's last hope rests with the colonists aboard the generational starship Attenborough. Bound for Proxima Centauri, a thousand years away. Catastrophe strikes when a reactor meltdown cuts off those in the ship's front from the rear. Two factions must now struggle to survive. With four hundred years still to travel, we join a plucky teenager, "Thief". She's found a way through the ventilation system, around the radioactive core of the ship and into the front sections. Thief brings back vital components that might help the rear-dwellers connect the ship's computer. For the first time in hundreds of years, there is hope. But people are disappearing without a trace, and the makeshift hospital is overflowing with cases of a new virus. It's up to Thief to embark on her toughest mission yet. To crawl through the bowels of the ship, the furthest she's ever been, and find some answers, before there's no-one left alive. What she finds at the front of the ship, however, is terrifying.

Quite often, when you read an author’s book, you know what you’re going to get. They have a niche, and they work within it. Davi Mai is not one of these authors; going in, the only thing you can expect is that at some point, the book will make you laugh, and the characters will entertain. His books might be transgressive humour titles like Mother’s Little Angels (read my review here) or Ravenous (you can read my review here). Or it could be a more serious story that lures you in, like Defying Gravity (you can read that review here). Proxima Bound falls into the latter category, weaving a tale that draws you in, built around a thoroughly enjoyable plot.

Like Defying Gravity before it, Proxima Bound weaves a science fiction tale set in the future, out in deep space. It’s easy to imagine both books set in the same world, with this being set further in the future than the previous book, with humanity’s exploration of Earth having continued and led to its plot. However, where Defying Gravity told a story with resonant themes surrounding love and hope, Proxima Bound moves in a different direction, providing a story full of horror elements.

At an estimated 104 pages on your eReader of choice, like all Mai’s books, it’s a novella that doesn’t provide the author a great deal of space. Where often, novellas will try to cram too much story into their short page count, or try to extend a simple short story’s worth of material to fill their page count, Mai has a wonderful knack of telling stories that work perfectly for their length. The book’s pacing works wonderfully, building mystery and exploring the book’s world, while introducing characters. Through this, the book works in a solid plot with twists and turns to keep the reader fully engaged while remaining succinct enough to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Set on the starship Attenborough, Proxima Bound focuses on thirteen-year-old Thief, a nickname given to her thanks to her knack for thievery. As the Attenborough moves towards its eventual destination, the ship’s inhabitants start to disappear. Against a backdrop of a pandemic, Thief must locate the ship parts needed to save them while surviving the threat of two vampires on board the ship. For a book of its length, Proxima Bound’s plot has plenty of layers that build together incredibly well. It’s an ambitious story, but at no point does it feel to ambitious for its length, nor does it ever feel at risk of not reaching a satisfying conclusion.

If you’ve read my other reviews of Mai’s books (if you haven’t, I included the link above for a reason; go read them), you’ll know how much I appreciate his characters. Once again, he hits them out of the park, and of the four books I’ve reviewed, Proxima Bound‘s are the greatest. These characters are fully formed, feeling like real people. Thief is an engaging protagonist, who feels like a teenager, albeit one who’s lived through exceptional circumstances. At no point does she ever feel older or younger than her age, something many authors struggle with. The supporting characters are all thoroughly entertaining and three dimensional. The vampires pose a major threat to the Attenborough’s inhabitants, and despite their presence and actions leading to the book’s horror, are a blast to read. The book switches perspectives between Thief’s adventures and the vampires, which serves all the characters well.

The prose manages to explore the ship’s world, provide the perspective of its characters, add mystery and tension, build a horror story and infuse humour into its proceedings. It’s no small task, and the author has done a wonderful job of juggling all its elements. It’s easy to follow, clear and concise. The book doesn’t provide excess details; it does just enough to convey everything it needs to. At points, the book is heavy on dialogue, however it never feels off-balance. Even in the areas where there is a greater focus on the dialogue, it complements the prose. It’s just as clear as the prose, and easy to read. The characters have some wonderful lines, quite a few of them adding levity to the story.

Proxima Bound infuses its science fiction, fantasy and horror elements into a whole that fans of any genre will enjoy. The reader can easily suspend their disbelief, and the introduction of new elements feel natural. The story adds a healthy dose of drama with a dash of heart, particularly Thief’s concern for those who she’s closest to.

If you’re a science fiction fan, Proxima Bound is a wonderful science fiction tale. It’s short and easily digestible, while telling an engaging story. If you’re a fan of horror or vampires, you’ll enjoy those elements. The characters are wonderful, and the humour and heart the author has infused elevate it even further.

Favourite Passage

“Tell us about the demons, and Thomas!” Thief looked as though she’d burst.

“What you refer to as “demons”, are very much living, physical beings. Demonic is one interpretation of their behaviour, but it’s not a useful scientific term. Demons do not exist.”

“So what are they?”

“They’re vampires.”

“Oh, well, that’s great, We’re so lucky they’re not demons!” Thief jumped up and paced.

Proxima Bound, Chapter Eight: “Gravity”

Proxima Bound was purchased for the purpose of an honest review.

Proxima Bound is available in eBook from book retailers (including—but not limited to—Amazon).

You can follow Davi Mai online, via:

Note: I do not post scores on reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

Interested in purchasing Proxima Bound?

Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.


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