The mere mention of aliens, extraterrestrial activity and fiction beyond the scope of normal reality will evoke out-of-the-ordinary settings. As it is with paranormal offerings that are jockeying for position on bookstore shelves, the aforementioned seem to be holding its own. The Darkling by Keoni Anderson in my opinion goes beyond mediocrity on the way to magnificent! The genesis of a story with ordinary pretension depicts Henry Johnson, a San Bernardino, California high school student who desperately wants to escape his sordid surroundings and get admitted to a good college. Along the way quite a few occurrences beyond his control catapults him in another realm relative to an illogical, if not mysterious key and note found in a local park. How does this change his outlook for a normal life? Enter alien Sofa Re, antagonist Mor Ray and his merchants of mayhem, and the dark secrets hidden in the shelves of Re’s insipid bookstore. For a first time work, the author did an outstanding job of creating a storyline that riveted me to page after page of undivided attention. What made me so wanton for this story?
Science fiction, or paranormal as others would want to call it is a genre not an easy read for those not already acclimated to the art of stories where imagery is a prerequisite for something different. Mr. Anderson went one better -- he continually gave me something to whet my appetite further and kept me intrigued by what would happen next. Alien conspiracies, mind-blowing creatures, hunted fugitives with clauses and a cause, and relentless persecutors made this story intriguing. Most interesting is how the author was challenged to incorporate a balance between reality and speculative lore to give the story its flavor. From beginning to end the story resonated, with the gist of it never wavering from allowing the reader a chance not to be deterred with a sense of worth. It borders on in my opinion, who the protagonist really is in lieu of the obvious choice in this story. The Darkling represent a single entity representing a species named for the mysteries surrounding them--and the story supported why imaginative ingenuity will always move a story of this magnitude.
This book is not without flaws. The prose style could have been better, and the author’s inexperience is apparent, but unlike most reviewers who tend to be unforgiving where literary fortitude is not inherent in lieu of the strength of plot and storyboard, my take on the importance of substance far outweighs mistakes that first-time authors are prone to make. There were story inconsistencies, spacing issues, typography errors and mistakes like missing spaces between words and mis-capitalization, etc. Despite all of this, it should be understood that if the stylistic rendering was applied to a better writing style it would have been rated higher...however, I gave points for character development, and plot twists. Kudos to this author who has created a space epic worthy of the best in the science fiction genre of late. This is a must read for any sci-fi fan, and readers cognizant of an author outside of the stereotypical notion of whom should be writing this type of fare in the first place. This, in face of a great story well told. Welcome to the genre, Keoni we await the sequel!