Containment by Christian Cantrell
My rating: (3 / 5)
“Solving problems isn’t so much about simplifying them as it is about properly and realistically reducing them to only what’s relevant. And one of the best ways to reduce a problem to only what’s relevant is to throw away most of your assumptions about it.”
Arik was born on the first human colony on Venus. The strange, yellow, heavy-gravity planet seems completely inhospitable to human life, but 100 children were born there, amongst the other 1000 residents, when it was discovered that they had just enough oxygen for those extra lives. Arik knew all of his life that he would live, work, and die in the domes and corridors of the colony, that his fate was already decided for him, that he could only choose his mate from those in his group of 100, that he could only work at jobs available in the colony, that he would never get to see the Earth that the others in the colony thought of so affectionately. He would be subject to a future that was already decided for him.
“Arik felt apprehensive. He was accustomed to having a great deal of freedom in his research and in the topics he chose to pursue, but he was starting to realize that such indulgences were the special privilege of childhood. For the first time, he realized how much of what he took for granted was going to change. He was about to become a resource—assigned specific tasks that were to be completed in specific and prescribed manners. His creativity and productivity were to be constrained and directed toward only those problems that his superiors deemed worthy of his effort. Arik was about to become an adult.”
After waking from a strange accident, though, everything seems strange to Arik. People are treating him differently. The biggest surprise? His wife is pregnant, which must have happened while he was in the coma. A pregnancy that will create a life that the oxygen in the colony cannot support. Soon, an error code pops up on his computer that is a hint at the mystery Arik has to unravel if he is going to save them all.
This is a pretty solid sci-fi/dystopia novel with an interesting main character (some of the secondary characters are a bit flat), an intriguing premise, and a “big reveal” partway through the book that made me gasp in surprise. No, seriously, they really shocked me here. That’s a good thing.
I enjoyed the technical aspects of the book, including theories on the future of computer technology, which sparked some fun conversations with my IT guy/geek husband. The technology here is fun, well-thought-out and nicely presented as part of the world-building. I would have liked a bit more world-building, actually, as while we learn a little bit about different areas of the colony, much of the description in the book is functional enough to present what is going on without any scene-setting extras. It made some parts difficult to picture, for me, and felt just a little bit lacking.
Some of the character motivations also seemed a little “off” to me sometimes. As well as the side characters falling flat personality-wise, some also were a bit baffling as far as why they did the things that they did, and it wasn’t terribly well explained.
All that said, I will be looking for the second book in this series, which was recently released. I’m curious to see how the side characters fare in the rest of tale!