Author: Eliot Schrefer
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Length: 416 pages
Read Date(s): June 4, 2021 – June 8, 2021
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.
I honestly don’t think I can put into words how much I loved this book, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Reviewing this book is even more complicated by not being able to talk about anything that happens in it without ruining the reading experience. It is truly a book best read without any spoilers because experiencing the plot for the first time was a total mindf*ck. I thought I knew what this book was about going into it, but I was completely unprepared for what actually happened.
The book started out exactly as described in the synopsis. However, right away I could tell something was not quite right because of the strange formatting and early hints. The book does not have chapters, but it has multiple parts that vary in length. The first part is the longest, and it is a slow burn mystery coupled with an exploration of the relationship between the two boys. The pace of the rest of the book increases significantly after the first part, and I was so thrown by the end of the first section that I had to put the book down for a bit before continuing. The ending of the book felt a bit rushed, but I also loved how the story ended. I just wished there was more of it.
One of the main themes of this book is the importance of intimacy to feel human. This story does an excellent job of exploring this idea because it strips everything down to only two people surrounded by infinite nothingness. Seeing the progression of the relationship between Kodiak and Ambrose was a beautiful reminder of how important connection to other people is for our sanity. It was also an excellent example of how people who are very different can come together and find understanding even if they are raised to be enemies. One of my favorite quotes from the book highlights this theme of intimacy very well:
Intimacy is the only shield against insanity. Intimacy, not knowledge. Intimacy, not power.The Darkness Outside Us, page 142
Existential crisis and the necessity of meaning in one’s life is also a major component of this novel. The story explores the effect on an individual’s psyche whenever they lose their main purpose in life. It also examines how people raised in two different cultures can respond to this loss in distinct ways. Overall, the narrative is filled with existential dread. If you don’t have at least one existential crisis while reading this book, then you aren’t human. 😉 It just does such a great job of reducing the complex human experience down to its barest essentials and making you question whether there truly is a reason for all of it.
That was how life on Earth worked, too. People did a lot of tasks and tried to keep death as far away as possible.The Darkness Outside Us, page 236
This book has become my top read so far of 2021. The story was so unexpectedly profound in its relationship-building, philosophy, and plot twists that I’m left thinking about it days after finishing it. I could say so much more, but that would ruin the book. So, go read it instead! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and cannot recommend it enough, especially for lovers of science fiction.
Have you read The Darkness Outside Us? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, but do your best to avoid spoilers.