Cover Image: The Darkness Outside Us

The Darkness Outside Us

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Member Reviews

I am not usually a fan of the Ground Hog Day thing but this author did it well. There is a love story here but I would not call this a particularly romantic book. It was well done but just generally darker then I was in the mood for.
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I was expecting a quirky space romance. What I got was a space mystery, revealed to the reader early on, and repeteadly revealed to the characters for the rest of the book. It sucked all of the tension out. I knew exactly where the story was going and how it would end for half the book. 

I didn't care for any of the characters, except Rover. I didn't find the romance that did emerge to be compelling, a consequence of the plot. 

The plausibility of the science was appreciated, that was the best part of it. A few things did bother me. For a non-spoilery example, Ambrose has a violin. At one point his bridge cracks and is replaced with a synthetic one. However, his bow hair is totally fine. For a very, very long period of time. Where are you going to find horse hair in space, Ambrose? I think a flute would have been a better choice for a space instrument, there are good quality plastic flutes.
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Mankind has suffered multiple world wars and the two most powerful nations remaining on Earth are mired in a cold war. A space mission launched with the hopes of turning Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, into a habitable space for humans. But the mission went dark soon after the lone pilot, Minerva Cusk, apparently crash landed. However, a few years later, in 2472, Minerva’s distress beacon activates. Suddenly, the joint space program between the Fédération and Dimokratía rekindles, financed by the wealthy Cusk family. And leading the mission is Ambrose Cusk, Minerva’s younger brother.

Ambrose’s mission, however, is not going as smoothly as he hoped. For one thing, he’s suffered an accident that left him incapacitated and without memories of the launch itself. That last point is cause for some concern because as he quickly tries to get back into the rhythm of his mission to Titan, the on-board OS indicates that Ambrose is not alone. In fact, Ambrose’s own Fédération ship—called the Endeavor—is actually paired with an exact replica of itself: a Dimokratía ship called the Aurora. There’s even a Dimokratía spacefarer named Kodiak Celius on board. Like Ambrose, Kodiak can’t remember the launch. Hurtling through space, though, Ambrose and Kodiak have little choice but to perform the necessary tasks that keep their dual-ship, the Coordinated Endeavor, operational. In the course of their duties, they encounter conflicting data that pits the reality they know against the facts they uncover with their own eyes and ears. Thrown together by the direst of circumstances, Ambrose and Kodiak will have to rely on one another if they want to get to the bottom of the mystery: what, exactly, is the mission on which they have been sent? But deep in space at the edges of the galaxy, there are no guarantees of their survival.

Eliot Schrefer offers a stunning tale set far into the future and featuring two young adults struggling to make sense of their mission as described by the OS guiding their ship. Instead of chapters, the book is separated into six parts of unequal length. The first half of the book details how Ambrose wakes on the ship soon after launch and how gradually he builds bridges with Kodiak, the “only game in town.” As the story develops, the reader follows along as Ambrose and Kodiak uncover one mystery after another: whose blood is inside the engine room? Where are the external radio signals coming from? Why can the OS predict solar flares that knock out communication with mission control, but not life-threatening levels of radiation? The real mystery of the mission Ambrose and Kodiak have been sent on gets delightfully set up in the first part.

When the second part begins around the half-way point, it feels like a jolt…details we learned in the last part feel somehow “off.” As a reader, I grasped at least a part of the meta-story involved. So at the conclusion of the second part’s all-bitter-no-sweet end, I was primed for the remaining four parts. As the sequence of events unfolds over these different parts of the book, though, I got a deeply satisfying story of two young men coming to grips with their situation and their relationship. I will say the romance aspect seems to fall distinctly on the slow burn side, but again, as the story builds, there is mounting evidence for ever-deepening feelings shared between Ambrose and Kodiak.

If that all sounds…vague, well, let’s just say I am not even referencing a very famous movie that incorporates a similar theme for fear of spoiling how the story unfolds for other readers. Suffice to say that the way this story builds on itself was a thrill to read. Each part presents more and/or different details that deepen our understanding of Ambrose and Kodiak. They also build the relationship there, but it’s fun to think how and why Ambrose and Kodiak are even able to build a relationship.

Our two main characters are seventeen (Ambrose) and eighteen (Kodiak). Despite their youth, they’ve spent their lives training for a mission like this. Except Ambrose’s and Kodiak’s upbringings could not be more different. For starters, their home nations are in the midst of a cold war. Their joint mission may help thaw the relationship somewhat, but that doesn’t mean they can simply set aside the values they were raised with. As Ambrose tries to learn more about Kodiak, he asks Kodiak how he got a scar on his arm.

“I don’t remember the fight very well. By the end my arm was broken, but the hand at the end of that broken arm still held the key [that meant I won the fight].”

“You fought hard enough to break your arm?”

He supports his upper arm in his other hand so he can get a better look at the scar. “I think it was technically the wreckage that broke it, but I fell into that wreckage because Celius Li Qiang had me in a headlock and was drowning me, so yes, you can say it got broken in the fight.”

I cough. “I want you to know that even though my exams in my training were mostly essays, some of them were very hard.”

The book is peppered with little vignettes of these two interacting with each other. They share memories, discuss theories about the true nature of the mission, and worry about what the startling physical evidence they discover that indicates what they think is the truth might actually be subterfuge. With each new part of the story, a little more of the truth comes out. The readers basically know what’s going on (but not necessarily where it’s going) by the end of the second part. Ambrose and Kodiak, however, don’t truly figure it out until part five—the second to last part and, personally, the most satisfying and second most heartbreaking part for me. (BUT! The story overall definitely has a happily ever after!!!)

The Darkness Outside Us is a breathtaking story that creatively uses repetition, doubt, and questionably reliable narration to fabulous effect. The limited setting of a spacecraft heightens the emotions and the drama, but it also focuses the action. I found it fairly easy to connect events from the various parts of the book together to draw my own conclusions about what kind of mission Ambrose and Kodiak are on. Our two main characters are an absolute delight. I read them as nuanced and variously flawed, rich with their own experiences and individual voices. Each part of the book showcases a slightly different aspect of the same character—and in the end, everything comes together because that’s what it was designed to do. I unreservedly recommend this one to anyone who likes books.
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I can't figure out if I'm really stupid or if this book is just hard to understand. I persisted through this book until I was at the 50% mark, because I had heard from others that this book was amazing. I was really looking forward to loving it, but unfortunately it never got easier for me to read. Maybe I just don't have the science-y brain for sci-fi, but I just didn't understand anything about this book. I'm not sure if thats my fault of the authors, so this definitely isn't a negative review, just a not-for-me review. Thank you for the ARC, and I hope others love this book!
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The Darkness Outside Us is my favorite young adult book of 2021, so far, and now one of my all time faves! It made me sob at 3 in the morning, gave me tender feels, and left me absolutely blown away. The book hangover today is intense. 

This is a mind-bending sci-fi story about two teen boys foisted together on a high-stakes rescue mission and it delivers heart-pounding action, heartbreaking feels, and an underlying mystery that will blow your mind. I'm not a STEM person but I love sci-fi and was able to follow along with the story despite not really understanding the science.  The relationship between Ambrose and Kodiak, the two spacefarers from enemy countries, is at the heart of the story. I loved that they don't have an instant connection and that they have to work to overcome their differences (both personality-wise and ideologically). Ambrose was genetically engineered to be the best of the best (literally: his male genetic donor is Alexander the Great) and has lived a life of wealth and privilege; Kodiak grew up an orphan and was subjected to brutal training with very little nurturing. They struggle to communicate, work together, and trust, but when they do they form an intense and unshakeable bond. As for the plot, it's one of the best I've read and I can't say more because of spoilers but trust me, it's incredible!

The Darkness Outside Us, while steeped in sci-fi conventions, is ultimately a story about human nature and relationships, and it's rich and powerful. I can't wait to read it again!
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I can’t even—

My brain has been reduced to keysmashes, expletives, and incomplete sentences. How am I supposed to give this book a coherent review?

Space boys, I was ready for. A shared mission and a bit of angst or mortal peril to bring the two together? Yup. Maybe some love story? Yeah, bring it ON. But the side order of psychological thriller? Holy Hannah I was not prepared. 

I’m afraid if I say anything else I’ll spoil it. But I was up til 3 am so I could devour this in one sitting, and my eyes blinked open four hours later so I could think about it in expletives and keysmashes again.

I just—aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Go read it.
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Prior to reading this, I hadn’t encountered any book yet this year that I just knew—even before I’d reached the halfway point—would get a 5-star review. In fact, I would give this book an infinite number of stars if such a thing were possible. I love this book so, so much. If this book had legs, I would follow it anywhere, including onto an unsettlingly sentient spaceship. I read the ARC twice and spent months harassing friends and coworkers to read it the moment it dropped so I could tell them all my thoughts and feeeelings.

The premise: It’s the year 2472. Earth has split into two countries, Fédération and Dimokratía (hello, Cold War parallels!), and these nations have fought World Wars 3 through 5. Quite frankly Earth’s future is looking pretty bleak. A few years before our story begins, Fédération Spacefarer Minerva Cusk leaves to determine whether Saturn’s moon, Titan, is a viable option for colonization—and is not heard from again until her distress signal is manually tripped years later. Her brother, Ambrose, is chosen to embark on a joint mission with Spacefarer Kodiak Celius of Dimokratía to retrieve Minerva from Titan, dead or alive.

The best way I can convey why this book is so amazing without giving away any spoilers is that everything makes sense until it suddenly doesn’t. Your heart will break a little bit (probably a minimum of 15 times) and you’ll get that rollercoaster-y feeling like your stomach just dropped out of your butt, and trust me when I say it is worth it. For the majority of the book we only see the interactions between Ambrose, Kodiak, and the eerily perceptive OS. Most of the action takes place on the ship and at times things get pretty heavy and philosophical, but the story never loses momentum. There are so many different depictions of love packed in and the writing brims with emotion. It’s at turns beautiful and brutal, tragic and hopeful, with some parts so lovely and full of raw humanity that it hurts. Kodiak and Ambrose are the most well-rounded and sympathetic characters I’ve encountered so far in 2021. This novel blew me out of the water and I cannot recommend enough. If you do read it, please keep in mind that there are no breaks on the feels train and make sure you have some tissues handy.
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I wanted to enjoy this book so much. I tried to enjoy this book more than I actually did. 

There are some really interested aspect in this story. I feel like I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more as an adult book and not a YA book. The themes felt more adult and I’m not sure why the characters needed to be 17. 

I also felt like nothing really happened in this story. It was really repetitive and I wanted to DNF it several times. However, the last bit of the book was a little more interesting. I honestly would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if the story started near part 5 and continued through the end and beyond. That’s what I’m interested in reading about. 

I also didn’t really like the characters or the relationship between the two characters. 

I think this book could have been really great.
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I am in shock. This book was a wild and thrilling ride to say the least. I am so overwhelmed and AMAZED by how great this book was. For those who say that there is no original stories anymore needs to read this book. I had absolutely no idea we’re this book was going to go until it WENT there. In The Darkness Outside Us we follow Ambrose and Kodiak on their space mission to rescue Ambrose’s sister, Minerva who is stranded on Titian.  They both awaken with no memory of their take off and are instantly thrown into fixing the ship. As they work they start questioning OS, the AI system running the ship, as it seems to have a mind of its own. Ambrose and Kodiak are two every different people who needed each other in their journey through space. They balanced each other out and melded so well together. With that being said their is absolutely nothing more you should know about the plot going into this book. You will just have to read it and have your mind blown and your heart broken.

This is a heartbreaking book especially after you find out the mystery of it all because you know what is going to happen multiple times before you get to the end of the story (again, just read it and find out, you absolutely do not want to be spoiled on any part of this book). I really loved how is readers get to see how real and true humans react and interact with each other when they are faced with life altering events.

This is now one of my all time favorite books. It was beautiful, devastating, and fascinating all balled together. I will say that it did really elevated my fear of AI taking over and controlling our lives, but the AI in this book made the story so thrilling and powerful. Please do yourself a favor and pick up this book!
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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.

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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This YA scifi follows two teen astronauts (from opposite sides of a war) on their way to a planet emanating a distress beckon after years of radio silence. I cannot express just how invested I was in this plot and in these characters. Eliot Schrefer does not shy away from throwing all his weight into his punches. I was blown away by the plot twist, in love with the romance, and sobbing at the ending. If you're a fan of breathtaking space operas, read this book.
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Umm...Yes! The turn that this book takes was amazing! The Darkness Outside Us took me on an emotional rollercoaster and I loved it! The only thing that's bringing my rating down is the fact that the last 20% or so got a bit clunky and confusing. But the relationship between Ambrose and Kodiak was so cute, and the story is so atmospheric and fast-paced! Ahh so good!
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Genre: YA Sci-Fi 

Rating: 5 Stars 

Spice Rating: 1 Star 

Spoiler Free: 

A BIG thank you to NetGalley for the ARC I received of this book from Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review. 

The Darkness Outside Us follows Ambrose and Kodiak, two teenage spacefarers who have been sent on a mission to rescue Ambrose’ sister, Minerva, from one of Saturn’s moons, which happens to be the only potentially habitable planet close to Earth. There’s only one problem: Ambrose can’t remember the launching of the ship and is stunned to learn that he spent the first two weeks of his space voyage in a coma.  

Not to mention, his country’s rival sent a spacefarer on the ship as well, and he’s the most stubborn boy Ambrose has ever encountered. As Ambrose gets further and further from Earth, he seems to also be getting further and further from reality. Can Ambrose and Kodiak come together in time to save Minerva, or will they be doomed to die on a ship that isn’t quite what it seems? 

I absolutely adored this book. Ambrose was funny, witty, and a narrator whose perspective I could read 10,000 more pages of and not get bored. You’ll love this book if you like Sci-Fi, seemingly untrustworthy spaceship AI systems, LGBTQ+, or the Young Adult genre. If you choose to read anything this year, this book should be it. 

5 well-deserved stars for this amazing, marvelously written, addicting addition to the YA genre.  

Full Review: 

If you had told me what this book ended up being before I read it, I would not have believed you. I started this book expecting to take a few days to fully soak in the story. Unfortunately, Schrefer seems to have unlocked the secret that writers everywhere are dying to figure out: how to write a book so damned good that you think about it at every possible moment you can and finish it as soon as humanly possible.  

I finished this book in ONE sitting. I consumed all 400+ pages of it so fast that I couldn’t believe the day had passed so quickly and that the sun was already setting. In order to give you a fully fleshed out review, I’m going to review each section of this book separately. 

Part 1:  

This section of the book was a bit confusing at first, but not so confusing that I felt overwhelmed with the world building. I got the general gist of Ambrose’s background relatively quickly, and then couldn’t put the damned book down for the life of me. I wanted to know more, more, more about every possible piece of information about this world, Ambrose, Kodiak, the ship, everything.  

The whole enemies-to-lovers trope is always my cup of tea, but especially when it comes to two space dorks who are so obviously in love with each other and refuse to acknowledge it.  

I was not surprised that Ambrose started getting suspicious of the ship, especially once the polycarbonate panel was found with dried blood from 6,000 years ago on it. I literally wrote in my notes, “I have a feeling they’ve been on this ship for a lot longer than they think they have.” But more on that later. 

Ambrose and Kodiak build a “blind room” into the ship, effectively removing OS, the ship’s operating system AI, from their plans.  

I knew as soon as Kodiak put his plan together to try and outsmart the ship, he was going to die. I also knew that Ambrose would regret not kissing Kodiak before he put his space suit on and went space walking. What I wasn’t expecting, was the ship literally murdering both Ambrose and Kodiak so early in the story. An even bigger surprise was when Part 2 opens to the exact same conversation Ambrose had with OS at the beginning of Part 1.  

Call me confused and interested. Let’s move on to Part 2. 

Part 2: 

In Part 2, we learn that Ambrose and Kodiak are clones, and that it’s the year 9081, which was 6,262 years after Ambrose and Kodiak were originally “sent” on their missions. We later uncover that the original Ambrose and Kodiak were never actually sent on their missions at all, and that their DNA was copied and pasted into numerous numbers of clones to be sent on a long mysterious mission that they’re unable to figure out.  

Finally, the last big piece of information we learn is that several thousand years go by between the awakening of the clones.  

We don’t actually learn what their true mission is in this section of the book, but we do get quality quotes like, “Stop it right there, you bastard little toaster”, and “I’ve got a long list of names for you, my flufferskunk.” So really, Part 2 gave us dialogue gems that I’ll probably never forget. Again, Ambrose’s perspective is hysterical and makes the whole clone thing seem a lot less horrifying than it really is. 

This is of course, before Kodiak dies of radiation poisoning and Ambrose is so distraught that he takes his own life.  

Moving on. 

Part 3: 

The most terrifying aspect of this part is the fact that some of Ambrose’s thoughts are exactly the same as the past two Ambroses’ that we’ve already met and mourned. For example, this is the second (I believe) time that we read the line, “I seem to have lost my calluses, and just a half hour of playing becomes too painful for my finger pads.” 

This is the first example that we see of past Ambrose and Kodiak leaving hidden messages for future Ambrose and Kodiak clones. This obviously causes both of the current Ambrose and Kodiaks’ to feel a tiny bit overwhelmed.  

Kodiak handles it poorly, to say the least. He experiences a total mental breakdown and eventually ends up opening an airlock door which instantly kills both Ambrose and Kodiak. 

Part 4: 

The opening of this section tells the readers that we’re down to nine clones of each boy left, meaning there have been 3 clone lifespans on the ship that we didn’t get to see. Whether they all figured out that the ship was hiding something from them is uncertain, at this point. 

The Part 4 clones get very little page time (we don’t even see Kodiak in this one), but it’s certainly a gory section. The current Ambrose clone is watching a reel of a previous Ambrose getting his throat cut by a Rover, the ship’s maintenance robots. It’s horrifying, but does give the readers a little insight into the development of the clones intelligence. They’re leaving more and more information for the next set of clones to try and figure out.  

Part 5: 

This section broke my heart. Ambrose and Kodiak choose to slice the throats of the remaining clones (minus one for when the ship finally reaches its still-mysterious destination) so that OS has no reason to kill them. 

We read a series of letters that the current Ambrose writes to the final Ambrose clone. They’re lighthearted, funny at times, and downright romantic in most of them. This set of clones lives to see thirty-eight, which is the longest any set of clones has managed aboard the ship. 

Kodiak eventually dies of cancer, which causes Ambrose to write the most heartbreaking letter I’ve ever read in my entire life to himself. “Kodiak is dead. The universe has no light in it anymore. I will join him tonight.” 


Part 6 (Final): 

We finally learn the purpose of the Ambrose and Kodiak clones in this section. It’s as follows: 

Earth has been destroyed. Ambrose and Kodiak are the last two humans from Earth alive. They’ve been sent to a planet that can support life and traveled for over thirty-thousand years to get there. The mission was never to rescue Minerva. Minerva was presumed dead as soon as she landed on Titan. 

The way this book wraps up is *chef’s kiss*. Ambrose and Kodiak are finally getting their happy ending. They name the planet “Minerva”, which made me literally sob into my iPad.  

And although I typically dislike when YA books become “they lived happily ever after with a baby on the way”, I loved the way Schrefer wrapped this book up.  

Science fiction novels tend to end in a negative light, which I’m totally okay with, but I fell in love with these characters (clones?) and would not have been able to bare an unhappy ending for them. 

I am begging you, begging you, to read this book. Not only is it inclusive and diverse, but it also gave us a story that didn’t focus solely on the character’s sexuality as the main plot. The story itself was so layered and well thought out. I could not have imagined the way this story would end. Please, please, read this book if it’s the last thing you do.  

You will NOT regret it.
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The Darkness Outside Us works really well as a science-fiction novel. As a romance it struggles . I wanted the romance to be more swoon-worthy. I wanted more slow-burn. And maybe, because of the plot, that was difficult to do. I have some questions with how the romance and plot come together but it's difficult to articulate without massive spoilers. So I will leave it at this: highly recommended for science-fiction buffs. There's some cool concepts here!
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I received a free e-arc from Netgalley to review. 

Two boys are on a spaceship together, assisted by a hyper intelligent AI responding to a distress call from a woman on Titan. But is that the true purpose of their mission? 

This book is not what I thought at all. It’s thousands of times better. When deciding to request this, I saw it was about queers in space. What’s not to love? But incredibly, this was so much better than that.

I can’t say much of the plot because it’ll give it away, but there’s an enormous twist around halfway through. This is way beyond a YA romance, it features deep philosophy in a very genuine way. It made me analyze the purpose of life in a way I hadn’t before, about the point if it is inevitable if everything decays in the end. It makes you question the point of work and of present conflicts. It made me wonder if life is worth living for the sake of itself. 

It’s much more adult than I had thought, and it’s better for it. This is a truly impressive novel, one I’d like to own, and one of the rare books that makes me tear up. THIS was a masterpiece.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book to review. 

The Darkness Outside Us appears to be a young adult novel about two seventeen year olds in space who fall in love. It’s way more complicated, and sci-fi centric, than that (these are good things)!

Ambrose’s mission is to rescue or retrieve his sister from Titan. He embarks in a ship that contains an unexpected space—fearer. Things are not adding up and these two boys must work together to figure out what is going on. 

Spoilers below!!!
I really liked how it kept you guessing what we going on. Allusions to the movie “Moon” with the clones, 2001 Space Odyssey with the onboard computer system, and then mashed with a good old young adult love story.
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I wasn’t sure going into this book how I’d feel about it as I’m not really a sci-fi fan. What drew me to the book is that the main characters were part of the LGBTQ+ community. I think my problem with sci-fi is that there is generally a lot of stuff discussed in the book that is hard to rap your head around. I think that Eliot Schrefer did a wonderful job of creating a book that had its own world but that wasn’t as difficult to understand as some sci-if books I’ve tried reading. Both Ambrose and Kodiak are relatable characters and the situation of the book is really good at making you as a reader think! One thing I wouldn’t have minded is getting a little more background on the situation on Earth, some history. Though I do think the book has a theme of moving forward and creating their own space, knowing the history is more of a curiosity then something that would be necessary in the book! Overall I really enjoyed reading this book, and in terms of sci-fi it’s one of the only books I’ve been able to complete! I’ll be purchasing it when it comes out!
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What an amazing concept and done so amazingly well! Ambrose is such a fun character, one that I thought might annoy me, but he really didn't, and watching his connection with Kodak grow was so fun. While this book is quite long, it never read like it! I couldn't put it down and always wanted to know what was coming next. The first half moves along well, then you hit a great plot twist about 40% through and I was just hooked!! I love sci fi and this title did not disappoint at all! I can't wait to read more from this author!
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Listen. I love sci-fi. I live for and inhale sci-fi like there is literally no tomorrow. Sci-fi brings me joy. The idea that everything written and planned has to be based in technology and ideals we have today or are working towards today in order to be considered sci-fi just lights my brain up. 

I know sci-fi. Sci-fi knows me. So, when I tell you that The Darkness Outside Us is lightyears beyond everything I've read and love and know, trust that it's a good thing. I've yet to read a sci-fi book so mind-boggling dark, but accurate, but romantic,  but twisted all at the same time. To see and read all the things Ambrose and Kodiak experience throughout their journey? It's a lot, at times, but well worth it. Once you finish the first 40% and you get to the PLOT TWIST, you'll be half tempted to reread it and see if you can catch it earlier this time. 

My best friend and I previously tried to read the Big Sci-Fi Book by that Big Dragon Author released last year and were slightly disappointed. It just felt a little Too Big and a little Too Outside the Box. If you, too, felt that way about Big Sci-Fi Book, I highly recommend The Darkness Outside Us for you. It was everything I expected from that other book, but tangible and reasonable. All words felt as if they were chosen carefully and all character interactions felt intentional. I devoured this book so fast, reading 150 pages at a time each hour I sat to read it. I wanted more, I craved more. I'd gladly read three more books about these characters and their journey and experience. Despite every horrible thing that happens to them, I just want the boys to be alright. They DESERVE to be all right. And, somehow, Eliot Schrefer thought of every realistic way this novel and this plot could go and included all of them. Every single possible idea. And it WORKS.

I feel like my reviews are starting to become me just gushing about the books I love and people are beginning to question how I can love almost every book I read. But, I pick them wisely knowing my interests and faves and this is going to be one that sticks with me for a long time.

So if you like dark, sometimes depressing, mind-boggling, gay science fiction that will tear you down so far before it offers you the smallest glimpse of hope, then THIS is the novel for you. And if you don't like all of that? Well, it's worth it anyways. Trust me.
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I have so many mixed emotions on this one. The ending is breathtaking, and I love the premise of gays in space. It’s very Space Odyssey meets Moon meets the gay insta love/lust trope. 

What I loved: Ambrose as the narrator, the writing style just flowed. This is a dense book but it never felt like too much to take on. The world building was beautifully done. I felt like I was on the ship. I also loved how truly science fiction this book was. And SF tends to feel very hetero so I loved how queer this was.

What didn’t work for me: I wanted more romance, not necessarily sex scenes (there isn’t anything explicit in this book which is fine - it’s YA), but more about their emotional connection and love. Most of it was centered on physical attraction through much of the book and that doesn’t equal love. If the love between Ambrose and Kodak is the heart of the story I wanted to be punched in the chest by it.

I also would have loved this book as adult science fiction rather than YA. Casting them as teenagers didn’t feel necessary. The book deals with mature themes and gets pretty dark halfway through, and they could have been older adults and be just as effective.

Overall I really liked this book. It’s the gay science fiction novel I’ve wanted for a long time. I highly recommend it to readers looking for LGBTQ+ rep in space.

Thank you NetGalley for the digital ARC.
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