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I'll say this up front: I don't read sci-fi. I love sci-fi films, but it's my husband who's the science fiction fan in the household. I picked this up because I've taken on an Aussie author reading challenge through Goodreads this year.

And boy, am I glad I selected Aurora:Darwin.

The set-up is brilliant - right from the start, you've got one up on the crew of the Aurora - you know what they're walking into. They don't. And you wonder how the heck they're going to cope with three new recruits - all female - up against an experienced all-male crew who resent their presence on their well-ordered ship.

Sent on a classified mission to the other side of Mars, Captain Harris and his crew are on their way to fix what they think is a simple communications problem. The only bit that slowed the story for me was the journey there - the training and how the new recruits began to be sized up by their superiors. However, the way in which the characters interact and the description of their arrival at the eerily silent Darwin is such that you just have to keep reading.

When they reach the Darwin, the build-up to the action is measured and intense.

And once you're there, you can't stop reading.

Parts of this book left me reminiscing about the movie "Event Horizon" - not because it's similar in story line (it isn't), but because there is always that sense of menace, especially once the body count starts building.

This is a brilliant debut novel and the author gets 5 stars from me because she wrestled me out of my reading comfort zone - and won.