Written by Nolan Oreno
Alluvium is a sci-fi read about life on Mars. When I first cracked it open it instantly reminded me of The Martian—another popular indie book. Well, it’s not indie anymore but whatever. I could see the similarities between the two books as I progressed through the story, both main characters were living on Mars and also happened to be botanists. I’m not complaining about the comparison, I was actually happy to see another book as intriguing as The Martian was.
Hollis Reyes, our protagonist, is a man on the brink of a psychological breakdown. He is living on Mars to start a new colony away from earth. He has lost almost everything and to make matters worse, he is about to lose his home—even in outer space. The colony faces trial after trial, problems pop up one after another. From a sketchy suicide to the revelation of the truth behind the colony’s purpose on Mars—one of the real plot twists in the story.
I thought the characterization in this piece was done very well. Each character plays an important role, not just to the story but for the actual colony. Everyone plays a part—even the mechanical bot that keeps tabs on each member’s psychological condition. The opening scene has Hollis discussing an incident with a ‘voice’ that actually plays a key role in the story.
The voice is like a machine, I know that might sound crazy but it’s the best comparison I can make. It analyzes the colony on a group and individual basis and is actually one of the great peace keepers on Mars. We learn a great deal about Hollis and the colony through this voice, a lot of the mystery in this story is brought forth in the many conversations between the voice and Reyes. Those were my favorite scenes, to be honest. I got to see a calmer side of Hollis, for a character with so many walls built up, that was a rather pleasant setup.
Hollis is typical character for multiple reasons. He has great potential but he’s hindered by a single thing that haunts him. He is emotional but not to the point of dysfunction, he acts on impulse but his hunches usually work for the better. He’s typical, but he’s also very likeable. I wasn’t initially drawn to Hollis. There was far too much mystery in this book to be connected to anyone, really. I don’t mean that in a bad way but as I progressed through the story, I found it hard to make attachments. It was one of those, who do I trust? Kind of reads. And I mean that in a good way. It left me in suspense which turned out to be a real page-turner.
While I’m no fan of mystery novels, this one combined just enough suspense and drama to keep me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t really know what was going to happen next as there were many twists, many secrets, and a lot of questions. Post-apocalyptic books are some of my great interests so this one is definitely a personal favorite.
Oreno’s writing is very refreshing. He has a knack for detailing graphic scenes in a way that even the wimpiest of us all can read. There wasn’t any content here that could pass for X-rated gore, but with lines like “…He would die convulsing and gasping for air.” Well, there’s just enough imagery here to picture the horrible death of a Mars based colony. I liked the details and descriptions in Alluvium, that’s something I personally look for in books. How do these characters look? What’s the setting like? Is it cold outside? The little things are what I live for and Oreno gave me just that.
There’s a scene where Hollis is giving a rather encouraging pep talk to the colony, we don’t just get to see him screaming and shouting, Oreno takes us to the audience. We see their reactions, we hear the shift in the crowd as his words ring through them. Nolan Oreno takes every character into consideration—that’s a spectacular trait that every writer needs.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys space-travel, sci-fi, or psychological thrillers. It’s a definite must-read for all ages.