A History of What Comes Next – Sylvain Neuvel

This book surprised me in all the best ways. I got the audiobook off NetGalley (massive thanks to PRH Audio!) and I raced through it in like three days. And I was working for most of those days, so you can imagine how obsessive I was about listening! This is a supernatural alternative history of the Space Race and it hit all my sweet spots.

STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶

RELEASE DATE: 04/03/21

SUMMARY: Germany, 1945.

Mia, a nineteen-year-old girl, is sent by the OSS to find Wernher von Braun: Germany’s – and the world’s – foremost rocket scientist. Her mission: stop the Russians getting hold of him.

But von Braun is suspicious. And so he should be.

For Mia is no ordinary girl. She only looks human. And helping the Allies win the Second World War is just one part of her plan . . .

Because there’s an even darker conflict on Earth. A secret struggle thousands of years old. One that has taken generations of Mia’s people.

But can the firing of rockets finally bring about its end?

Can Mia, as the last of her kind, bring the stars down to earth?

And if she succeeds, what will happen to us?
(from Penguin Michael Joseph)

OPINIONS: Ok, so this is SO GOOD and you need to get your hands on this. It is an alternative history of the Space Race in the 20th century intertwined with the story of the Kibsu, a sort of anomaly where generations of mothers and daughters appear like clones and possess superior brains for science. We meet them at the point where they’re the 99 – the 99th generation, with Sarah as the mother and Mia the daughter. At the start of the story, Mia is nineteen, and on a mission to extract Wernher von Braun for the Americans at the end of World War 2. The story continues until Mia has her own daughter and they become the 100.

One of my favourite aspects of this was the extensive historical notes at the end of the book, explaining about the sources, further reading and historical figures. Can you tell that I’m a nerd? I also really enjoyed the interludes of earlier generations of the Kibsu, visiting eras such as the Dutch witch trials or the medieval Rus’. A History of What Comes Next is meticulously researched, and in addition to being a wonderful novel and story of its own, teaches the reader much about cultural history.

I loved Mia from the start – she is a young woman, headstrong and determined to find her own path. The narration adds to that, portraying her as she is, with nuance and detail – it sounds as if it’s Mia directly speaking to the reader. The interplay of text and delivery is astounding and adds to the enjoyment of the story. The book is narrated by 5 or 6 different narrators, giving each point of view a distinct character.

I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are fascinated by space at all or love science fiction, you have to make sure to give this a shot. You can add it on Goodreads here, get the audiobook from Audible here and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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