Earlier this month, author Joss Ware released the first installment of a new science fiction/thriller romance series. The first book is titled Beyond the Night, and it hit bookstores on January 12th. Although promoted as a zombie novel, Ware’s sci-fi romance defies such simple categorization. In fact, Beyond the Night is a novel that surpasses other zombie and romance books based in large part upon the unique nature of its characters and the strength of the science fiction novel upon which all of the other elements of her story are built.
Fifty years after the near-extinction of humanity, the world is overrun by huge, lumbering creatures called “Gangas” that roam the Earth when the sun goes down. Although stupid, Gangas have the brute strength and bull-headed determination to kill and devour human beings, making nighttime travel suicidal at best. The people that have survived over the past fifty years are forced to group together into primitive settlements for survival, but it is not just the Gangas that they must worry about. A subset of humanoid creatures known only as “Strangers” control what little commerce and travel exists among human settlements, making any kind of organization, technological development, or mass repopulation virtually impossible. The Strangers appear to be humans that derive incredible strength and power from glowing crystals embedded in their skin; however, little is known about where they came from or how they were involved with the catastrophic events of fifty years ago.
Where the Gangas and Strangers came from is the least of Dr. Elliot Drake’s worries, however. Drake and his companions — Quint, Wyatt, Fence, and Simon — awake one morning to discover that fifty years have passed, the human race was nearly destroyed, and somehow each of them has not aged a single day since “falling asleep” years earlier. In addition to the shock of being temporally dislocated and becoming an endangered species overnight, Drake and the other men must also deal with some mysterious new powers that they developed and figure out how to fight off the massive, horrifying monsters that now roam the world around them. The post-apocalyptic landscape that Ware creates in Beyond the Night is a highly complex one that offers her characters seemingly endless obstacles to overcome with little tangible reward. Instead, these obstacles and the way that characters choose to overcome them offers readers the reward of watching Ware’s characters develop from average, flawed, vulnerable individuals into shining examples of the best that humanity has to offer.
As Elliot Drake journeys through New Mexico and into Nevada with his friends, the group of men unknowingly become involved in series of events that will land them in the middle of a fight to save a civilization that they barely recognize. Beyond the Night provides readers with a glimpse of the most dominant of human traits — greed, desire, resilience, self-preservation and determination — and the chaos and destruction that these characteristics unavoidably bring about. Human beings have long been preoccupied with the power struggle that ensues whenever we feel threatened or oppressed, and Joss Ware’s novel is no exception. The resistance movement that Elliot, Quint, Wyatt, Fence and Simon become involved with is as inevitable as the rising sun given the way that the Gangas and the Strangers have dislocated and disassembled civilization. The way that Ware seamlessly integrates her commentary on human nature and oppression with elements of post-apocalyptic storytelling and traditional romance novels is what really sets Beyond the Night apart from similar works. Ware’s writing is not only complex and substantive, however; her prose is also clever and her writing brings fictional scenarios and events to life with startling feasibility.
The next book in the series, titled Embrace the Night Eternal, is set for release sometime next month, but Beyond the Night is available now. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy, especially if you are a fan of well-written and imaginative science fiction novels.
For more information on Beyond the Night, visit author Joss Ware’s official web site where you can also read “sneak peek” excerpts from Beyond the Night, Embrace the Night Eternal and the final installment in the series, Abandon the Night (March 2010). Thanks to our friends at Harper Collins we will have reviews of both Embrace the Night Eternal and Abandon the Night, so stay tuned for more!
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars