Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing a book that has been sitting on my TBR for quite a while, Dark Theory by Wick Welker. I’ve been in the mood for science fiction recently, and this book definitely helped to scratch that itch.
A robot yearns to remember. A thief struggles to forget. A galaxy on the verge of collapse.
On the fringe of a broken civilization, a robot awakens with no memories and only one directive: find his creator. But in the village of Korthe, Beetro finds only radioactive pestilence, famine, and Miree—a tormented thief with dreams of retiring after her final score. Meanwhile, the fiefdom is plunged further into chaos when a new warlord seizes control, recasting serfs as refugees and leaving derelict robot peasants in his wake. With a shared interest in survival, Beetro and Miree team up to pull off an impossible castle heist: steal a single flake of dark matter, the world’s most valuable and mysterious ore.
But as they trek through the feudal wasteland in search of answers, they realize the true extent of the chaos surrounding them: the stars are disappearing from the sky and the entire galaxy is unraveling. As he uncovers his origin, Beetro discovers he may be the key to the salvation of the cosmos—or its destruction. Time, space, and loyalty become relative as he learns the real reason he was created.
A mind-bending science fiction epic with the bones of a fantasy traveling quest, Dark Theory unfolds through a journey of betrayal, identity, and unlikely friendships in a world of darkness set at the edge of space and time.
Why did I wait so long to read Dark Theory? I think it was likely because I found the length daunting. It didn’t help that the traveling quest is one of my least favorite fantasy tropes. So, I was concerned this wouldn’t really be for me. I’m so glad I was wrong, and I regret not reading this book sooner. Is it perfect? No, but it is a gritty and fascinating adventure full of characters you’ll love and others you’ll love to hate.
The post-apocalyptic world of Dark Theory was such a great setting. It was grim, and the author did a great job of showcasing how the harsh realities of life in such a setting impacted both the individual characters’ development and the societies that have managed to survive all the cataclysms. There were so many fascinating locales and peoples, all of which were brilliantly brought to life through Welker’s vivid descriptions. There was plenty of interesting science, as well, but I often found it to be confusing and unbelievable, even within the context of this far-fetched setting. Overall, though, the world-building was very good and left me wanting to learn more about the history of this world.
The plot of Dark Theory had so many moving parts. I’m honestly impressed by how intricate the story turned out to be. It was a pulse-pounding adventure with tons of twists and turns. I was definitely never bored. Unfortunately, all of the different events and POVs made the story feel a bit convoluted, and I think a little more editing and paring of the subplots would have done it some good. This was definitely a long book, and the story seemed like it could have easily been broken into multiple books. The way everything came together in the end felt a bit rushed, too, which was odd considering the length of the story.
The characters in Dark Theory were my favorite thing about the book. Beetro’s identity crisis and the development of his humanity were fascinating and allowed for the exploration of some really interesting themes, namely what it means to be human and the impact of surroundings/influences on empathy. I despised Miree at first because she was selfish and abrasive, but I started to root for her by the end. Her growth into a tolerable human being was largely a result of the fantastic found family she discovered along the way. Arym’s POV was one of my least favorite, but it did allow for the exploration of indoctrination and was important for adding to the world-building.
The best character in Dark Theory was a precocious young girl named Ribcage. She was a street child who survived by begging and using her wit to her advantage. She also had a really cool power that I don’t want to spoil. She didn’t change a lot over the course of the story, but she added humor to an otherwise grim narrative. She quickly stole my heart, and I’m curious to learn more about her origins in future books.
Overall, Dark Theory was an exciting post-apocalyptic adventure with a cast of characters I’ve come to love. It was a great combination of science fiction and fantasy elements, and the setup serves as a great start to a new series. While the plot got a bit unwieldy at some points, I definitely recommend this book for fans of gritty science fiction. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Have you read Dark Theory? What are some of your favorite science fiction reads? Let me know down in the comments!