[Book Review] Injection Burn: A Dire Earth Novel

Injection Burn Cover

Title: Injection Burn: A Dire Earth Novel
Jason M. Hough
Rating: Recommended
Genre/Category: Science Fiction, Aliens, Futuristic, Artificial Intelligence
Release Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: Del Ray


Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Part one of a thrilling action-adventure sci-fi duology featuring indomitable characters, incredible worlds, and plenty of rip-roaring action and thrills!

Rescue operation—or suicide mission?

Skyler Luiken and his ragtag crew of scavengers, scientists, and brawlers have a new mission: a long journey to a distant planet where a race of benevolent aliens are held captive behind a cloud of destructive ships known as the Swarm Blockade. No human ships have ever made it past this impenetrable wall, and Skyler knows not what to anticipate when they reach their destination.

Safe to say that the last thing he expects to find there is a second human ship led by the tough-as-nails captain, Gloria Tsandi. These two crews—and their respective captains—initially clash, but they will have to learn to work together when their mutual foe closes in around them and begins the outright destruction of their vessels—along with any hope of a return to Earth.


I finished Injection Burn desperate to get my hands on the sequel (which’ll be out this coming Tuesday because of course it would take me a month to get this review uploaded…). I also finished the book with a need for the entire Dire Earth series to be turned into a Syfy series ASAP. It’s that good.

It takes a truly amazing writer to hook a new reader at book four of their ongoing series, and Jason Hough is one of those authors.

Injection Burn is part one of a duology, but it’s also book four in the overall series — something that isn’t immediately evident because it’s not marketed as such. Oh yeah… And it’s set like 2000 years after the last book in the series.

At first, I thought that little fact would leave me as adrift as the crew of the Wildflower is at one point, but there was enough backstory scattered about the book to catch me up with the narrative without feeling like Hough was info-dumping at any point.

First things first, at several points through Injection Burn, I paused to announce to anyone around me that it felt like I was reading a Mass Effect playthrough. Come to find out, that Hough actually worked on the prequel novel for Mass Effect Andromeda, my current favorite video game.

So, my brain making that connection makes sense.

Injection Burn is just super interesting to me from the start. Opening with Kenyan Captain Gloria Tsandi and a skeleton crew (which seems generous considering her crew is only made up of two people) made up of her familiar navigator Xavi and newbie Beth Lee, the novel drops us (and them) into the middle of traveling through space.  Their ship, the Wildflower, is part of a mission to at least catch a glimpse of the planet that Captain Skyler Luiken and his crew set out to look for two millennia before.

The same Skyler Luiken that’s on the cover of Injection Burn – clearly alive and well despite the significant passage of time.

One of the things that I really liked about Injection Burn was how easy it was to get invested. I spent all of my time with this book on the actual edge of my seat because every time the action scenes got going, I was ready to throw my kindle because I was ANXIOUS. Hough writes some incredibly intense action scenes that are so easy to visualize. Especially as someone that’s spent an ungodly amount of time shooting their way through ME:A recently…

Injection Burn also winds for replicating some of the horror movie aspects of films like well… the entire Alien franchise in the Scipio – a race of aliens that appear to want to rule the galaxy and aim to obtain it via use of manufactured viruses. For much of the book, the Scipio are described and almost serve as a boogeyman lurking in the dark vacuum of space on their way to cannibalize the Wildflower for its parts and take samples from the humans. However, they quickly reach the ship.

And they have tentacles… that their scouts use to collect those samples I mentioned before. Which is pretty… grody.  I made such a face when Sam had to basically set her leg on fire to get one off of her. My god…

Now because I’m a serial complainer, I’ve got to mention my complaints. Thankfully, I only have two.

First, I wanted more time to get to know the crew and more descriptions of the characters because Hough’s sci-fi series isn’t one where Whiteness reigns supreme even in the distant future so we have diverse characters on screen just… maybe not described as well as I’d like them to be. Which is clearly Hough’s style, and, isn’t likely to change four books into the series. But Gloria Tsandi is on the cover of Escape Velocity and I mean… That cover has me all kinds of hopeful.

Second, I just wish that we had more time to spend with the characters in this book. And I get that I feel like this because we’re four books in and most of these characters were introduced way before this one so I’m coming to this series at a late point. If I go back and read the previous books (which I’m planning to do when I get the chance) and keep up with the series after Escape Velocity comes out next week, I’m hopeful I’ll get all of the glorious character development I want.

Taking place over three days amidst danger from aliens, hostile humans, and maybe from their sentient space ship (look, I’m working on trusting her, okay?), Injection Burn is a rollercoaster read that managed to grab my attention and keep it despite my late arrival to the series.

If you’re a fan of fast-paced, intense sci-fi (or you, like me, can’t get enough of the Mass Effect series), check out Jason M. Hough’s Injection Burn, the first book in the Dire Earth duology (and technically/sort of the fourth book in the Dire Earth Cycle).