It's not very often that I see a book and feel an intense urge that this is something special, but that happened with this story. After Io by Elliott Wink is truly a work of sci-fi thriller fiction that has pedigree.
I loved the setting of Io and the raw expanse of empty space. There is little else that strokes a sense of dread and fear like the prospect of being surrounded in space for not just miles by astronomical units of nothingness with nobody around to hear your screams. Io has always been a favourite moon, for some reason, so the setting gets a little personal bonus there. I do wish there was more time spent on the surface of Io and mentions of the sweeping scenery thereof.
The three major characters are Bryn the pilot, Amai the captain, and Tina the engineer. Each with their own set of skills and dynamic personalities. Seeing the way Bryn and Amai interact felt super natural and normal in their own way. Spoilers here: there's a lot of mention of Amai listening to Tina crying out in pain and this was something I didn't think would be part of Amai's arc. I thought maybe it should have been Bryn that heard the cries but ignored them since she was so focused on solving the problem.
The dialogue in this book is also truly some of the best I've seen and that really wraps everything up in a pretty bow. Everything that comes out of these characters mouths just makes sense, fits their character, and is just good. Normally, books tend to come with a fair bit of weird or cringy or seemingly misplaced dialogue. It's a part of life. This book, however, is lean and trim, so the dialogue remains pointed and purposeful throughout.
The writing of this novel is succinct and tactful. The book is quite short, only 130 pages, so every word really packed a punch. If this is the kind of flawless writing we can expect from Wink, I would hope to see her among future sci-fi greats. I'll be excited to see how the writing evolves from here as well.
I really disliked that it wasn't longer, though, and that I now have to wait *patiently* for book two of this series.
Though the ending was also rather sharply cut and everything ended like someone unplugging the TV in the season finale. It was a bit jarring. I had expected it to go on a little longer. Especially with the reveal of the mystery ship! But that'll have to wait for book two, even though I can't wait. I'm already ready for more.
For all that, it gets a 9/10.
You can grab a copy here on Amazon.
Follow can Elliott Wink here on Twitter.
Have a good wander, friends.