By Mike Brooks
The crew of the Keiko are back. Mike Brooks hammers out the sequel to his epic, sci-fi adventure, Dark Run; Dark Sky, and it truly is an incredible adventure. It continues the rapid-fire wit from the first, harkens back to the space opera/western of Firefly and blends two different perspectives on this rising revolution plot that will have you hooked from start to finish.
The plot picks up where Dark Run left off. After stealing a ton of money from the multiple bank accounts of Ichabod Drift’s former employer and all-round bad guy, the crew take a much needed vacation in Russian space. Ichabod, determined to remind his crew of the good old days, takes a simple contract on a nearby mining planet. What unfolds is a high risk game of cat and mouse when a revolution breaks out and the crew are left separated and trapped. There only hope is to get off the planet before the revolution swallows them whole.
The book starts off strong, immersing us in a high risk game of cards in a Russian casino with Ichabod Drift at the helm. Brooks once again uses internal narration and description to give us an idea of the setting, mentions key point of interest and then leaves it at that. However, whilst this approach doesn’t leave you with pages of description, it can leave the reader confused at times where all the characters are in the setting. However, Brook’s talents lie in his ability to create well developed and likeable characters. He works with five characters that all drive the story forwards and never gives you a second to catch your breath so it always feels like you never know something ahead of the characters. It all blends to make an unforgettable story and leave you wanting more.
In the first book, Dark Run, the change of perspective, at times, felt out of place because we followed the perspective of one character since the beginning and having that change felt off. However, in Dark Sky, the perspective change happens right from the get-go, making it feel much easier to follow.
However, whilst it may sound that Dark Sky is superior to Dark Run, Mike Brooks is writing these books as part of a series, one that you cannot get into half-way. You need to start with the first book, Dark Run. Brooks doesn’t waste his words, meaning information on aspects of the book’s world, like the Free Systems, Gabriel Drake and The Laughing Man, are not touched on at all in the second book.
Secondly, similar to the lack of world building, the entire plot takes place on a single mining planet and most of it is set underground. Combine that with Brook’s three different characters and you soon find yourself struggling to picture where the characters are. It leaves the reader confused and at times, more clarity was needed.
Finally, because the plot follows the characters and their role in the revolution rather than the actual revolution, when the character’s finally escape, it leaves the revolution behind and we don’t know what happens after. This is a similar problem I encountered with the ending of Dark Run; loose ends not being resolved and they never did get explained in Dark Sky; the characters just move on, not bothering to answer any questioned we had. It is likely that Brooks will reveal the aftermath of the event in the third book he baits us with.
All in all, however, Dark Sky is fantastic. It blends character and humour in an expansive and enjoyable space adventure that leaves you wanting more. Go out and buy it.
Written on 17th June 2016 by Sam.