The Outside by Ada Hoffman

The OutsideThe Outside by Ada Hoffmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would like to thank Angry Robot Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

Gods, heretics, and an autistic girl cross paths in this thrilling space adventure. Autistic genius Yasira Shien builds a reactor, that could change the human dependency on the gods, and the test run goes very wrong. Then she is recruited by Akavi the Inquisitor for the computer god Nemesis to track down a known heretic and her former mentor Evianna Talirr. Yasira is led on a search for her mentor that makes her question everything she knows including reality itself.

Ada’s universe is well built from the space station at the beginning, to planet surfaces and everything in between. Her craft shines when she is describing the areas affected by Outside and its reality warping effects. I could almost feel the distortion and maddening effects coming off of the pages. The story changes perspectives between the two main characters though it focuses more on Yasira and her struggles to process the information that is presented to her through her autism. I liked how Ada used the autism to make Yasira feel more real and helped to identify with her and her mental struggles to keep pace with the events around her. Akavi’s character on the other hand is cold and calculating using whatever he can to achieve his goals whether it be emotions, torture, kidnapping, etc, etc. He has times that his former humanity shows through but those are brief. Evianna Talirr is a major character and is the perfect opposite of Akavi, where he is by the book she is free spirited.

Though not the darkest Sci Fi I have read, this one has dark elements to it. There is such a fear around the god Nemesis, being the one that seeks out the heretics to kill them to stop the spread of their heresies using any means available. The angels of Nemesis came across to me as a what the KGB would have been like if they had been given unfiltered access to the data that comes across the internet now. There is also the sense of hopelessness in confronting the Outside. A force that cannot be explained or controlled where the laws of reality do not apply. The Outside is also known to cause irreversible madness in people how come into to contact with either the Outside or in some cases just the ideas and knowledge of it can led to utter insanity.

Over all this was an engrossing story of a woman’s search for the truth when she is given partial truths from multiple sides. The story has a few twists and turns throughout to keep you guessing. Highly recommended for fans of Science Fiction with a dark twist.

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