If you aren't into science fiction or aliens don't let the cover on A. B. Shepherd's debut novel, Lifeboat, put you off. While the story does have UFOs and aliens it centers on Cass, a woman who must learn how to survive the loss of everything she has ever loved. She is unable to sleep after losing her husband and son in a car accident and takes long walks at night to quiet her mind. On one of those walks she spots a UFO and becomes a bit obsessed. Years later she is picked up by an alien ship and taken to a new planet with other survivors of the Earth's destruction. This is supposed to be their chance to start over and create a new life but how can they when people are disappearing without a trace?
Lifeboat is a very different story in more ways than one. The author lives in Australia so slang and other terms are Australian rather than American or British. While the words were not immediately recognizable, they were easy to figure out from the context. The Australian setting and language enhanced the otherworldly quality of the story for me because I was reading about someone in another part of our world even as she eventually travels to another planet.
I admit that I was extremely tired when I started reading Lifeboat so the changes in time and character at the beginning threw me a bit even though they are clearly labelled. I just struggled to organize the timeline in my head as it jumped around. I finally got drawn into the story when it started flowing in a linear timeline which was around a quarter of the way through the book. I was curious about Cass and what was happening to her. How she might start to move on from the pain of losing her family. What was going to happen to the people on the alien ship? Then how would they survive on the new planet. There were so many questions to answer.
Many events in this book played out in unexpected ways. The ending was a complete shock and left me wondering if I had missed things in other parts of the story. Little hints that I thought I had figured out ended up being part of the finale but nothing close to the whole truth. Even as I pondered it for days after finishing, I still had questions about how events played out. With some books I think I would be frustrated that I was still unable to piece everything together into a neatly finished puzzle but somehow the unanswered questions are fitting for Lifeboat.
Library Girl Reads & Reviews is an Amazon advertising affiliate. A small fee is earned through purchases made using the above links. I won a copy of Lifeboat in a no-obligation giveaway held by the author.