It's hard to describe Darkside without making comparisons to other works. It is a story that immediately stuck me as having a Blade Runner type feel to it, but which ultimately put me in mind of a dark, sci-fi twist on something like The Fast and the Furious . . . complete with the alternative sensibilities of a Nicola Griffith and Melissa Scott.
T.A. Miles has done a superb job here, crafting a tale that stands on its own, despite drawing those comparisons. It's a cross-genre, cross-culture kind of read that plays entirely by its own rules. Don't expect it to head in any particular direction, and don't look for the usual genre cliches - unless its to discover how Miles avoids them.
The characterization is strong here, although it does take a while for some of the central characters - Calen and Luka, specifically - to begin showing any significant development. I had some early concerns regarding both, but once the other elements of the story began to be layered upon one another, their own inner layers began to be revealed. As for the setting, I suspect there's greater detail to be revealed in subsequent volumes, but what's established here makes for an interesting backdrop.The dual themes of alienation and occupation play well against one another, so well in fact that you tend to forget we're reading about human resettlement of an occupied alien world.
While there were a few scenes that felt oddly crafted for YA appeal, this is a far more mature novel than they would lead one to expect. Miles does not shy away from the darkness with her characters, telling a tale of their struggle for survival against increasing odds. Well-paced, with a nice scattering of action and horror, it's a great novel that establishes promise for the series to come.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins