Signal Boost (Alyssa Cole)

Signal Boost is the second novel in the Off the Grid trilogy by Alyssa Cole.
Finished on: 31.10.2021
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Content Note: suicidal thoughts, mention of rape and assault

After electricity cut off everywhere, and with it all kind of communication systems, John and his best friend Arden made their way to his parents’ cabin. Now they have settled into a more or less comfortable routine with John’s parents and his siblings. Well, as comfortable as the end of the world can probably get. Until one night, John surprises a guy as he tries to steal their tomatoes. Mykhail wasn’t as lucky in the apocalypse as them, but as an astrophycisist he brings information of what might have happened – and a plan of how he may be able to help. For that, he needs to trek to his old university. John, who felt nothing but useless recently and who finds Mykhail very attractive indeed, is determined to go along and see if he can’t help either.

Signal Boost is a quick read that draws you in and makes you root for the characters. The plot itself is a little uneven, but as it takes a backseat to the characters and their relationship, I didn’t mind that too much.

The book cover shwoing an Asian man in front of a starry night sky.

Signal Boost spends most of the time exploring John’s inner life and Mykhail through John’s eyes. Their attraction is obvious, but Mykhail is often a cypher for John – and by extension for the readers as well. The way the book peels back layers from Mykhail as we get to know him was the most interesting part for me about the book. Mykhail is a fascinating character who keeps subverting expectations. He’s funny and passionate and appears to be an open book, but he very cleverly uses this openness to hide the darkness at his core. (And damn, that backstory had me bawling.)

Cole herself seemed to be most intrigued with Mykhail, so when the book turns away from him and towards the plot, things seem a little rushed – as if she realized three quarters of the way through that nothing much had happened with regards to the plot – and then everything happens at once. I was actually pretty happy with nothing happening but Mykhail and John falling for each other more and more, and the rushed plot was a bit annoying.

But definitely not so annoying that I didn’t enjoy the book or that I wouldn’t be looking forward to the final novel in the trilogy. Because I definitely am.

Summarizing: a really nice read.

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