Go buy this book… NOW!
Miss. Bilyk, I take my hat off to you.
First off, I just want to praise the cover. I am exhausted of seeing books with moody girls on the cover that have no relevance to the story. This cover is beautiful and appropriate at the same time.
I was extremely impressed by The Edge of Darkness for two reasons. First of all, I generally dislike science fiction and still managed to love this book. Second of all, the author, Lissa Bilyk, wrote this story in the short span of one month for NaNoWriMo; and it isn’t shabby, poorly written and awful. Quite the opposite; Lissa Bilyk has been able to develop a story with strong characters and an intriguing plot that is beautifully written (it does include, however, a few minor flaws). That is a real achievement.
The Edge of Darkness is a science fiction story about a race of cyborgs (half robot, half human). The book starts off with a peek into Max’s mind while she’s daydreaming. Although you don’t realize it at first, her daydream is actually her recollection of how she reacted and what she was thinking when she woke up as a cyborg. Even though the story was written in first person, her short account showed me her exact train of thought at the time even when she was transformed a number of years ago.
We are introduced to a situation where cyborgs are under the control of aliens (called the “Authorities”) and start to head back to “Old Earth” (which is just plain Earth). At this point, Max begins to tell us her story. There is a long description (about twenty pages) which should be boring, but instead, reads like a mini-story within a story. We are exposed to Max’s former hopes and dreams that she was forced to abandon once she became a cyborg. From her story, we’re able to find out that humans were turned into cyborgs to save their lives, but they were then taken away to act as slaves and work for the authorities.
After a previous war is over, Max is separated from her husband Ethan, and placed on a space ship where they head home, to earth. Little do they know what they are about to encounter. What I loved about the plot is that many events come completely out of nowhere, catching me off guard. It’s fresh and exciting; definitely a much better plan than endless “foreshadowing” where you pretty much know how the story’s going to end. This book never gets boring and always keeps you captivated with new turns and twists.
There were also some plot points that didn’t make sense to me.
I found it unrealistic that the Authorities didn’t think to install simple cameras around the space craft to monitor the cyborgs' actions. I understand the author’s reason for doing this (so the characters’ choices are not limited), but I still found it hard to grasp.
Also, we are given no information on what happened to the Authorities at the end of the book, and how Max was able to time travel. How did she time travel? Did she have special powers? Was it some sort of special black hole? Or was the amalgamation responsible for that (since they were the ones who predicted it would happen in the first place)?
Max is one kick-ass protagonist. She’s never whining, has amazing martial arts skills and accepts herself for what she is (that sounds lame and cliché, but it’s completely true). She doesn’t try to deny that part of her that is robot. Max understands that her body needs the machine to live, and that the machine needs her body to live. On a number of occasions, we do witness her preferring death as opposed to her life as a cyborg, but she doesn’t spend endless hours agonizing over it and shedding tears of self pity. No. She knows she can’t change it, so she deals with it.
I also like that the fact that she’s not overly obsessed with Ethan. She loves him, they’re married and it’s forbidden. Before you jump to conclusions, it’s not any of that lame angel crap, when I say forbidden, I mean forbidden. As in the Authorities will literally rip her to pieces (as they have done to many cyborgs in different parts of the book) if they catch her. Furthermore, there is no “electricity” or “sparks” when they touch each other (which is also forbidden). There is only happiness, and that makes me happy. It’s exactly how someone should feel when they’re in love. You don’t feel electricity, you feel happiness and warmth.
As for Ethan, he’s not some rapist or stalker that just wants a physical relationship. I can feel that he genuinely cares about Max and is not full of empty bravado. His personality did seem a bit blank though, as we don’t get a good look at his past, personality and characteristics.
Let’s move onto our final topic for the day; the writing.
One part in particular caught my interest; the part where Max first steps into the spaceship’s garden and describes the fruits and vegetables. I’m afraid my description won’t do it and justice so I’ll just add a small part of it here:
” Apples in green, golden yellow and red; the slightly sallower shade of the pears growing alongside them; bright orange quince fruits plump and ready for picking from their tree; apricots, peaches, plums and cherries growing intertwined with each other, orange and cream and burgundy and blood-red.”
Also, apart from the fruits and vegetables, the descriptions are not overly dramatic and make sense. Ethan has blond hair, not “Shimmering strands of warm caramel that shamed the color of the sun itself”. It might not seem poetic, but to be honest, I’m tired of over-hyped features and just want the author to give me the truth straight up.
There was one part where the tense confused me. Max is telling us about a dream she had, and I had a hard time with the switching back and forth every sentence or so.
In conclusion, it’s been a while since I’ve experienced that need to drop what I’m doing and snuggle in bed with a book; this book made me do exactly that (hopefully, I’ll get a good mark on my history exam). The Edge of Darkness was truly amazing and interesting in every sense. I can’t wait to read more of Lissa Bilyk’s work.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)