Review - The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Shrefer

book cover

The Darkness Outside Us

by Eliot Shrefer

My rating:

Tags: Science Fiction

Posted in Book Reviews on October 17, 2021

Ambrose wakes up on board his ship, and is told by the craft's AI that he was injured during the launch and has been in a coma. He remember all his training for this special mission to rescue his sister, who was sent to see if Saturn's moon Titan could be colonized, but he doesn't remember getting on board the ship or the accident that apparently injured him. There's something else that's concerning: Ambrose's ship has been joined to another craft, that of his country's primary competitor, and that ship is occupied by another spacefarer, Kodiak. The two young men must work together to unravel the mysteries and contradictions that seem to cloud their real mission.

This is a difficult book to review without giving away some plot points. The blurb provides some strong clues as to the plot. To the fictional comparisons mentioned in the official summary, I'd add the movie Groundhog Day. The story structure has a similar episodic feel, as successive versions of Ambrose and Kodiak peel away the layers of what their real mission is, and then struggle to deal with what they learn.

I don't read many “Young Adult” (YA) books, and although this is classified as one, it's hard to see it as typical of what I know of that genre. Certainly, at seventeen years old (plus or minus 20,000 years), Ambrose and Kodiak are young adults, but the nature of their situation seems a bit more mature. The narration is entirely from Ambrose's point of view, and he is quite believable as a young man faced with a monumental challenge.

The most interesting part of this book, for me, is the various ways in which the various “versions” of Ambrose and Kodiak react to the information they uncover about their voyage and the ship's operating system. The “character” of the computer that runs the ship is also reminiscent of HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey. While the numerous inspirations or parallels to other works are many, this is definitely a book that stands well on its own.

“The Darkness Outside Us” is available from Amazon.

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