This one is weird. The Crypt features some of Scott Siglers’ strongest writing, characterization, scene-craft, and world building. It is not your standard “book 1 of the series.”
This isn’t Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World where we slowly gather together a motley crew of people who’ll all play a role in the unfolding epic events while going through a “find the ancient artifact” quest.
This isn’t a Stephen King book where as the horrors unfold we slowly learn the horrific mysteries in the pasts of main characters, both heroic and cruel, though we do get a well done slow series of reveals regarding the mysteries of eponymous military vessel.
The format is a series of short stories of varying length exploring the crew who will end up as crewmembers of The Crypt. By the end of each story, we know the central character well, sometimes better than we like. This focus allows Sigler to build a number of different main characters who I hope will have major roles in the sequel.
This structure allows him to introduce us to The Crypt universe in ways a book solely set on a military vessel wouldn’t- we see civilian life, both sides of the conflict, and over time we even see the development of the mysterious nature of the spaceship and the alien races as we see the conflict from different angles.
In the end, each character suffers what in other stories would be the most important event of their existence, a climax which ultimately destroys their former lives and gives them a second chance on The Crypt. The development of certain characters, especially the corrupt Admiral Epperson, evolves over the series in unexpected ways.
You don’t get a spaceship crewed by these awesome characters battling the opposition. You don’t get a giant space opera war. What you get is a series of gruesome but well-done vignettes set in a universe that would not tolerate a normal military sci-fi epic.
If Scott Sigler is experimenting with how to set up and introduce a cast and a universe, I’d say this is a pretty resounding success.
Just don’t expect the plot to hold your hand as it goes A to B to C. If this book holds your hand at all, it’s just getting ready to attack and making sure it knows where you are. Don’t trust it.
The Crypt by Scott Sigler is available at Podiobooks at http://www.podiobooks.com/title/the-crypt-01/.