I started reading Contagion, by Erin Bowman, a few months ago, but it wasn't the time. The time was now and it was actually a great read for the same reason I had to put it down.
See, late last year I got really into a series of audio dramas from Audible based on the Alien franchise. They're really great, full cast productions of stories about other encounters with the xenomorphs from the movies. One story is the backstory of Newt from Aliens and the details of what happened to that colony. Another involves Ripley's shuttle being found between Alien and Aliens, with some serious retconning to resolve all continuity issues. There was even a convincing Sigourney Weaver imitator playing Ripley.
The thing is, I listened to them all in a row, and they're very similar. Group of people come to a remote, deserted planet inhospitable to life to investigate something ominous, they find strange and fascinating sights--weird eggs, alien ships--and are inadequately frightened. They investigate, in spite of barely being able to breathe the air, in spite of the fact that there are probably people missing, so there's reason to be wary. But no, we'll just check this out.
Then the aliens hatch and are chasing them, and the people are running, getting picked off, trying to find their way to some kind of escape. We learn more about the aliens and wait to see how many people will actually make it, knowing it won't be many, in some cases knowing the answer will be "just Newt."
Don't let my being jaded stop you from listening; any one of these is a really great story and very well-produced. Maybe don't listen all in a row. But I was glutted on these when I picked up Contagion.
Contagion is the story of a science crew sidetracked to answer a distress call at a mining outpost called Black Quarry. (Point: could you give your mining outpost a more ominous name?) It's an ominous planet, inhospitable to life, and a survey team Died Mysteriously there years before (except for one child who survived). But there might be a source of McGuffin--excuse me, corrarium--on the planet, so another team is investigating. But now they've gone missing, and a team is sent to investigate.
The team consists of: the child survivor of the first mission, now much older. Her teenage intern, scrabbling her way out of a lifetime of institutional foster care. A young pilot who washed out of the military because of a very slight peripheral vision problem. A too-young, too-cocky captain. A few red-shirts.
So they get to this inhospitable planet, and they start investigating, and it's very mysterious, and they find things that don't make sense, and then ominous things start to happen. The first half of the book was very much like the part before you find the aliens. Which is actually great; it's about the nitty gritty of conducting a rescue mission on a dangerous world, with some extra interpersonal conflict and military/political drama thrown in.
When I came back to it recently, I was all fresh, and it started at a good clip. I think the cover gives away enough information that I can safely tell you without spoilers that there is a zombie virus involved, and leave it at that.
Too long; didn't read: awesome space horror; can't wait for the next one.