Cover Image: The Darkness Outside Us

The Darkness Outside Us

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Member Reviews

There is SO MUCH about this book I could scream about for DAYS, but let me try and cram all of my love into a reasonable-length review.

A sentient spaceship AI. A dumb himbo that falls in love with an even dumber himbo. Cold War tension meets sexual tension.

There's a lot about THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US that NAILS the most fun part about reading near-future science fiction: all the 'what ifs'. The main character, Ambrose Cusk, very obviously gets his last name from a thinly-veiled reference to Elon Musk, which was a fascinating inclusion and really made me take a step back and think about what might happen in a few generations after the super rich people in control of space travel right now are cemented in history as something more-than-human. The fact that Ambrose's father is technically Alexander the Great is a fantastic way of showing the reader what kind of technology humanity has at the start of the book, and all the little details about the ship Ambrose and Kodiak share gives the setting of the novel this incredibly lived-in, realistic feel that is so difficult to pull off.

Ambrose and Kodiak have a relationship that is built, in so many ways, on shared trauma. The story is told from Ambrose's perspective, but you can very clearly feel Kodiak's development over the course of the book through Ambrose's eyes, even if Ambrose himself isn't quite so good at noticing the changes. Kodiak is a character you just want to hug and read a bedtime story to. He's trying so, so hard to be someone he isn't, and Ambrose gives him the permission to be himself a little bit more. Ambrose learns through Kodiak that love at first sight isn't necessary to love someone just as much as they deserve, and also learns that loving himself is just as important. It's just such a cozy, quietly romantic relationship and it's so clear throughout the entirety of the book how much they love each other.

I think my favorite part of THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US, though, is all the unreliable narration. I can't say much without risk of spoiling everything, but this is one of those stories that lends itself incredibly well to multiple reads. I finished reading this book in one sitting and had to physically stop myself from turning my Kindle back to the beginning and starting it all over again. Every little detail in this book serves double duty. A simple observation that Ambrose makes in the first chapter makes sense when you read it the first time because it ties directly into something that happens in the second chapter, but then you get to the end of the book and realize that detail tied directly into something that happens in the last chapter, too. It's expertly-crafted storytelling.

I'm so, so glad I got a chance to read this book. It's absolutely going to be one of my favorites this year, and I can't wait to read it again!
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DNF at 13%

Who cares if he's unimpressed with me? He'll become impressed in time. They always do.

And yet, I did not.

I am probably pulling the trigger on this one way too early, and yet from the first few pages I was getting serious Project Hail Mary vibes and that was a book I finished because I was convinced the annoying narrator would improve. It did not, and this book is not doing it for me.

Spoiled princeling suffering from memory-loss and post-random coma? Check.
Binary futuristic world split between communist and capitalist countries (there are only two countries)? Check.
AI who speaks to princeling in his mother's voice for ~reasons~? Check.
Mysterious rescue plotline adding to mystery because of memory loss? Check.
Lots of weird repetition of facts and events and details that aren't moving the plot forward? Check.
20-something uses of the word polycarbonate in the first 13%? Check.
Make the protagonists 17 to make this YA when it probably should have been adult fic? Check.

It's got pretty damn good reviews, but this honker clocks in at something over 400 pages and I just don't have time for that. I'm not feeling it, and I'm not feeling Ambrose's voice or his fascination with finding sexiness in voices.

The fact that it's reminding me of one of my least favorite reads of the year has nothing to do with this book and everything to go with me. I'm not feeling it, but it might be the book for you! There are a lot of people who have loved curmudgeonly self is just not one of them. Again, me problem!

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
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I really enjoyed this story - the mystery aspect was gripping, I liked the main characters and was rooting for them throughout. Great science-fiction setting, emotional aspects to the narrative, and the ever-twisting-and-turning plot was so compulsive, I just had to read on to see where it went!
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I love the world of this story and the twist, but the love story just fell a little flat for me.  I got more we're in lust then the love of a lifetime.
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A cool tale of space travel and survival, a culture-clash romance, and an intriguing space mystery and psychological thriller all in one! Gets a little more graphically violent than I was expecting, but very interesting and inventive.
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I have never read a book as equally charming fun and heartbreaking as this one, The way this author told this story was so beautiful and catching I felt like reading it again once I was finished.
Cusk And Kodiak's Love story made me sob, and at a time when I thought "well if yourself told you you were in love with the only other person in your life you are bound to fall for then each time you don't really have a choice " but oh I was proven wrong they did have a choice and they didn't always choose each other but when they did... it hurt after they died.
To be frank I wasn't satisfied with the ending and I fully comprehend that it was the perfect one for a story like that I felt I wanted more of them.
Lastly, I would just love to say that the author did an amazing job with this one kudos.
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I'm surprised how much I loved this book.  I shouldn't be surprised, it's space, forced proximity and enemies to friends to lovers.  I'm so there for all of that  

The Darkness Outside Us does a great job of making you not just believe the story (seriously...sending 17-year-olds to space?  Makes perfect sense in this story.) but also fall in love with the characters.  They're not just two completely different people but they are also from two opposing countries that have to work together in such a close environment and there was only ONE BED!!!  Not really but I would have been totally fine if that trope was included.    

This is not just a space book, there's also a mystery attached.  I don't want to give anything away but there's a reason the book is broken up into parts and not chapters, it really does work well for the story that Eliot Schrefer is telling.  

I laughed, I cried (no seriously, I legit cried....more than once), I cheered them on.  I also flew through this so I could find out what was happening/going to happen.  I can't wait for this to come out so more people can experience it.  

Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for an eARC of The Darkness Outside Us in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this book! The mystery was really interesting and I couldn't put it down. I also loved seeing a queer romance in a sci fi book. Awesome story and characters - I definitely recommend it.
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First impression was of the cover, one of the heroes looks like the Winter Soldier, so I had to read it. What I ended up reading was a fantastic sci-fi/mystery novel with great characters and intrigue and adventure that just happened to have an epic romance in it. Just a few hints, an AI that is withholding memories from our hero who is on a rescue mission. Save from a truncated ending (says me because I wanted a fuller wrap up of the romance), this was a great ride.
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The Darkness Outside Us is a “just one more chapter” kind of page turner. The story is unique and while some sci-fis are overly cheesy, The Darkness Outside Us is not. The LGBTQIA+ representation is what originally pulled me in but the story is what kept me hooked. I anticipate seeing this in “this book is gay and it slaps” TikToks soon.
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Nothing like what I was expecting... but so so so good, nevertheless!
The Darkness Outside Us has such a unique style and structure and with every new “twist,” I was blown away by the impact it had on me!
I was so excited for queers in space, but what I got was so much more!
I can’t wait for this one to be out in the world! I just want, so badly, to see people’s thoughts on this twisty psychological sci-fi story!
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All the praise and hype for The Darkness Outside Us. I was instantly sucked into Ambrose and Kodiak's world and their lives upon the ship. I wanted to know all their secrets and I never felt disappointed with each plot twist. This book made me feel like a young teenager again in the best way. It has angst and mood and it made me laugh and cry with the characters. Entirely endearing. I can't wait to purchase a physical copy.
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4.5 Stars

I loved the premise based on the synopsis,and the idea that there would be another book featuring two young men in a positive light, fighting for survival against more than each other. As I began to read, I was further drawn in by the sci-fi/futuristic aspect of being in space, isolated from the rest of the world (or what's left of the world). 

I appreciated the piece where the author introduces OS and Rover as relatively introspective, despite being AIs there to support our main characters, Kodiak and Ambrose. I will note that there was a minor feeling of Groundhog Day at one point, but I was thankful that was addressed through a major plot spoiler (luckily, our protagonist grow wiser and wiser over time!). The only reason I took .5 stars off was due to the character development--a lot of their development was stated in their recollections/reflections, rather than shown through dialogue or character actions--but that's moreso why I would not teach the book in class, but would definitely promote it. 

I would recommend this text to my high school students, but in its current form (uncorrected, many errors that are not just stylistic), I would not teach the book in class.
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Holy cow. This has got to be one of THE best books I’ve ever read. Everything was meticulously crafted and I found myself holding my breath at every turn. Schrefer is a master at worldbuilding without long paragraphs of exposition and the entire book was a dream to read. I’m not going to stop raving about this one for years. 6/5 stars. #TheDarknessOutsideUs #NetGalley
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4.5/5 stars, absolutely would recommend to EVERYONE.

'And they were spacefarers! Oh my god they were spacefarers..'

This book left me feeling like someone opened the airlock in my chest and sent my heart careening into the void of space, freezing and boiling and macerating it all at the same time. 

The Darkness Outside Us follows Ambrose and Kodiak, two young men from rival countries on Earth, on a mission through the solar system to  rescue Ambrose's sister who sent a distress signal after being the first human to settle on Saturn's moon Titan. It swiftly becomes apparent that not everything is as it seems, though, in this sci-fi/horror/romance/locked room mystery.

The more the plot thickens (and boy does it get thick) the more my mind was whirring as it tried to figure out just what was happening. I never stopped thinking or theorising, even when I put the book down. I was trying to decipher what was going on and predict what might happen next when I was washing dishes or vacuuming. Before I finished reading it, I knew it would become one of those books I wished I could forget so I could read it over again, fresh and new, but I also know it's one I'll enjoy immensely when I pick it up again, noticing all the little details I missed before.

The Darkness Outside Us also comments poignantly on the deepest of human needs, whether they be for love or intimacy, or darker parts of the psyche like the desire to leave a legacy after death, or the desperation to do whatever it takes to ensure our species survives.

Well after I'd finished it, this book stuck with me. I had about nine (9) existential crises because of this. It serves as a potent reminder that we really are just a rock floating through space. So why shouldn't we treat each other with kindness and choose to love whenever possible?

I had only a few issues here and there, like allusions to life in the 21st century when the narrator wouldn't necessarily know about that, and it took me out of the world building a bit. But it was still great world building! I also wish the relationship between Ambrose and Kodiak was just slightly more developed, and easier for me to believe in. But I'll forgive it for the sake of such a brilliant plot. 

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC (my first one ever!) in exchange for this review. 

(Tl;dr space boys that are enemies to work partners to lovers to enemies to work partners to lovers to enemies to work partners to—)
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As a result of my various committee appointments and commitments I am unable to disclose my personal thoughts on this title at this time. Please see my star rating for a general overview of how I felt about this title. Additionally, you may check my GoodReads for additional information on what thoughts I’m able to share publicly. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this and any other titles you are in charge of.
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I enjoyed this book a lot--I read it in just a day or two. It kept me guessing, and the turns that it took were not ever quite what I expected, though they fit the story. It's kind of a psychological thriller set in a spaceship while also being a story of hope for humanity.
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3.5 stars

This was much more sci-fi than romance, and I really enjoyed that. The plot is complex and interesting and had no trouble holding my attention for 400-something pages.

We start with the MC waking up from a coma onboard the spaceship he's taking to Saturn on a rescue mission, with no memory of anything that's happened since the launch. His only source of information is the ship's AI, who seems to be holding back on which memory gaps it's willing to fill in... and off we go on a sci-fi adventure and mystery rolled into one.

The ramifications of what we discover are extremely thought-provoking, and I loved the different ways the MCs each processed and reacted to that information. This was my absolute favorite part of the book, but I can't really say much without major spoilers, and this is definitely not a book you want to be spoiled for! The fun comes from discovering each new piece of the puzzle along with the MCs.

I did love the MC's opposite yet complementary personalities and how that slowly built into a pretty epic romance amid the background of this warped sci-fi adventure.

My only complaint is that we spend so much time on their journey that there weren't a lot of pages left to explore the destination. We do get answers and action once they get there, and the book gives us plenty of glimpses into their future to feel satisfying, it's just that the ship, by its very nature, can only contain so much variety of circumstances vs. the endless potential of an unexplored planet. 

And I would have loooooved more planet time. Especially to wrap up the romance. It doesn't get much play at the end, which was disappointing. Both the romance and the ship time could have trimmed some in the earlier/middle passages to get more planet time. Not that it feels padded while reading those passages; just in retrospect as a greedy reader who loves survival stories :)

As it is, I should still probably give this a higher rating if I'm being completely objective, but this is where being a 40-year-old reading YA sci-fi comes into play. I have consumed oodles and oodles of sc-fi fiction -- books/tv/movies -- in the last 20 years, and while this is definitely a very fresh, intriguing contribution, it's still YA. 

When I got to the end, I couldn't help but think how awesome it would be to read this same plot written for adults. I mean that as a major compliment, though. This is truly excellent YA, written for the older and more discerning YA audience, and which I would definitely recommend for anyone who likes both YA and sci-fi -- this is just me acknowledging that I would probably be rating it even higher if I were anyone's definition of a Young Adult.

And now I need to see what else this author has written...
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I appreciated the author's intent with the book and enjoyed the overall plot and pacing of the story. Unfortunately for me, I am a really character driven reader who wants to see really developed and fleshed out characters and that just didn't happen. Some of the dialogue felt a little forced for me as well. If you're looking for a fun LGBTQ romance with a little bit of space mystery, you'll probably enjoy this book.
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Unfortunately, I wasn't vibing with the writing of this book or the decision to have lengthy parts instead of chapters.
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