Title: The Edge

Author: James Smythe

From the back: Years ago, a vast and mysterious object known as the Anomaly was discovered in deep space. All missions to explore and explain it failed.

Now, the Anomaly has almost reached Earth, threatening to swallow the planet whole. On an orbital research station, a team of scientists desperately search for a way to stop it or destroy it.

One of the crew, Ali, has lost faith in the mission. Following the death of a close friend, her only interest is returning to the ground – to her young son. But strange events, both inside the station and in the void beyond, force Ali to pursue a new mystery. And as the truth starts to make itself clear, as deadly secrets are uncovered, Ali is forced to ask if she can trust anybody: her crewmates, her friends … even herself.

The gist: Smythe is back with the third book in The Anomaly Quartet and damn it is good to get back to this series. For those who have read the first two in the series (The Explorer and The Echo), this is an interesting next step, the action moved on somewhat from where we’ve been. And when I say action, Smythe has an artful way of creating drama. There’s action, there’s tension, but it’s lived through confusion. His writing eddies and swirls around you, edging into stream of consciousness at times, never letting you completely get a hold of your footing before you’re whisked to the next scene. And in this way, he brilliantly captures Ali’s feelings as you live out the time with her, feel her confusion, learn the truth with her.

Or, at least, learn the version of the truth that is available to her.

I’ve always found Smythe’s writing beautifully done. He takes concepts and weaves his words carefully around them to build up a feeling, an emotional state, that sets the major events in context. It’s science fiction built around the human experience of it, the impact of large events on small lives.

And I can’t wait to see what happens in the final instalment.

PS If you haven’t already read the first two books in the series I highly recommend backtracking and reading the series in order – you’d probably still get a lot out of The Edge as a standalone, but why miss out on the full effect, the whole of the journey so far if you don’t have to…

Favourite line: This is what we do. We move to where we are not.

Read if: You want big science fiction seen through small human lives.

Read with: Snacks readily available because you ain’t gonna want to put this down for too long.

Get it: The Edge by James Smythe (available 18th February 2021)

ARC gratefully received from HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction, HarperVoyager, and Netgalley

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