Although I requested and was approved for an eARC copy of The Darkness Outside Us via NetGalley, I was delighted to discover a physical ARC waiting on my doorstep one day in May. Thank you HarperCollins Canada Influencer team! This was the summer catalogue HCC Frenzy title I was most looking forward to! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
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About the Book
The Darkness Outside Us
by Eliot Schrefer
Publishing 1 June 2021
Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Science Fiction, LGBTQ+ Romance
Page Count: 416
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Two boys, alone in space.
After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, neither remaining country on Earth can afford to scramble a rescue of its own, and so two sworn enemies are installed in the same spaceship.
Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor, with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: Evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing his own sister.
In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust one another… especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.
My Rating: 5 Stars
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The Darkness Outside Us is a YA Science Fiction novel about two teenage boys on a long mission to rescue another teen, Minerva, from her failed mission on Saturn’s moon, Titan. What neither boy is prepared for is the mounting pile of evidence that not everything is as it seems. Neither Ambrose nor Kodiak remembers launch, the ship’s OS is being cagey about certain topics, and it would seem that other living beings have been on the ship…
Oh my goodness, what a ride this book is! I don’t want to say anything that might spoil the plot. This is primarily a sci-fi, but it’s also mystery, thriller, and LGBTQ+ romance. It toes the line between hard science fiction (focused on technology and big questions) and space opera (focused on the characters) and I hope that means it’ll appeal to all sort of science fiction fans, no matter which end of the sci-fi spectrum you like to hang out at.
Warning for readers of the physical book who don’t want a key plot element spoiled early: Don’t flip through to see what the dark pages are. They’re not illustrations. They do contain text that’ll give something big away if you haven’t read up to the first one after the intro yet.
In terms of technology and scifi ideas, this book is classic long haul space exploration and I love discovering all the little details that have been well thought through and spliced in just-so. I love the fact that this technology is far more limited than some versions of long haul spacecraft. The AI is far more advanced than what we have now, but the physical technology doesn’t feel too far off what we’re familiar with. Food is still stored in vacuum pouches. Replacement parts made in flight are 3D printed (and not instantly.) The rover bot running around doing maintenance is on tracks.
In terms of characters and the relationships between them (of all types,) this book is a fascinating exploration of humanity in isolation. We have the ship’s OS which does speak, the ship’s rover bot which does not, and two human teenage boys from two different countries and cultures as crew. That’s it. OS tries its best to handle the teens “with kid gloves” and keep them focused exclusively on the mission and the seemingly never-ending list of maintenance tasks for them to complete. Rover’s voiceless expressions remind me of Wall-E with a mean streak. As for Ambrose and Kodiak, it’s complicated. Sometimes they’re friends and lovers. Sometimes they don’t trust each other. Sometimes they’re on the same team and sometimes they’re each other’s worst enemy. The utterly raw, real human element in this book is breathtakingly beautiful and heartbreaking.
This book has won me over as an instant favourite, and I now feel compelled to find other titles by this author! I’m so glad this book is coming out right at the beginning of Pride month because the M/M romance is beautiful and deserves attention, but I would be shouting about this book from the rooftops for a long time no matter when it was released. Read this book!
If you’re an avid sci-fi reader, this book will not disappoint. If you’re interested in speculative fiction and LGBTQ+ stories but don’t normally read science fiction, it also isn’t too densely sci-fi. I think this book will appeal to a broad audience, and I want to see as many readers as possible give it a try.
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