The Shongairi conquered Earth. In mere minutes, half the human race died, and our cities lay in shattered ruins.
But the Shongairi didn’t expect the survivors’ tenacity. And, crucially, they didn’t know that Earth harbored two species of intelligent, tool-using bipeds. One of them was us. The other, long-lived and lethal, was hiding in the mountains of eastern Europe, the subject of fantasy and legend. When they emerged and made alliance with humankind, the invading aliens didn’t stand a chance.
Now Earth is once again ours. Aided by the advanced tech the aliens left behind, we’re rebuilding as fast as we can.
Meanwhile, a select few of our blood-drinking immortals are on their way to the Shongairi homeworld, having commandeered one of the alien starships…the planet-busting kind.
Into the Light by authors David Weber and Chris Kennedy is book 2 of the Out of the Dark series, apparently (? more on this later), the first of which (titled Out of the Dark) was published ten years ago. It did not take me very long to find out this book is not in my wheelhouse. I will go into detail below, but it is really important that I note this is one man’s opinion. Just because I did not particularly enjoy reading this book does not mean you will feel the same way. If the information below appeals to you, I recommend you check it out.
I want to first address the fact that this is a book 2, because I had no idea. I am not sure if this was just my not paying attention or what, but I did not know going in that Into the Light was part of a series. The story does open on an interesting note, but I thought it was one of those stories where it starts at a certain place then flashes back. That is not the case, but I will say I do not think you need to necessarily read the first book to read this one. There are some references to previous events, but for the most part it reads fine without it.
Plot-wise I was not a huge fan of Into the Light. It is heavy on military organization and description of weapons, places, people, events, etc, that it reads almost like an encyclopedia. For the first 400 pages there is almost no action at all, which was really unexpected to me based on the synopsis. I knew there would be a rebuilding portion of the story, but I expected that to be concurrent with an alien war. But that is exactly what it is not. The narrative is 90% rebuilding and planning for the next alien invasion. I was waiting for the ball to drop and for something to happen. But it never did. There is action in the last 100 pages, but it was not conducive with the rest of the story to me, and it really just left me confused.
Did I mention vampires? Because, yes, there are vampires, which feels so random I cannot even describe it (this is not spoilery, by the way, because it comes up very early on in the book). I am not sure… why they are there? This left me the most baffled of all, because I do not know why they exist in this world. Maybe the authors just like vampires, which is totally cool, but I did not get it. The other issue I had with the vampires is that they show up early on and make themselves knows as very important beings to this world, but then they are not. They do not do anything of significance throughout the rest of story. This, again, leads me to ask “what is the point”?
I had a lot of trouble keeping track of the characters, as well. There were so many, and as they story went the important figures changed constantly. There were a few staples but not enough. That combined with the fact that there are several time jumps made the whole thing feel disjointed.
So, as I talk about this being the second book in the series, it makes me wonder if these things feel random because maybe they are addressed in the first book. Out of the Dark (book 1) is about the humans fighting off the alien invasion, so maybe Into the Light is much more appealing. Maybe after all of the action and reading about the fight, the struggle, the will to keep humanity alive one is ready to slow down and read about rebuilding. I want to give the authors the benefit of the doubt in that way.
I did enjoy learning about the alien military weapons and technology. That was really cool. And there is a ton of science in the book that was incredibly well thought-out. My ears always perk up when things get science-y. And the sections that do address alien civilizations are really well-done, for the most part. It was neat to read about the different ranks, societal and cultural structures, and even units of measurement; though, I was not a fan of the alien dialogue as they were often using Earthling idioms in their conversations, which did not really make sense to me. That aside, this was a highlight of the book.
The authors left some room at the end for a third book in the series, as well, which makes me think this one may have fallen victim to middle-book syndrome. This happens when the series is extremely busy, and the author(s) use middle book of a series as a repositioning. This happens often, but usually there is still some intriguing plot point to pull the story along. I did not find that in this book.
For those reasons, I cannot give this book a broad recommendation. It is possible that having read the first book might make this a little more digestible, but my task is to grade Into the Light on its own merits. It was just too dense, too word-y, too incohesive for my tastes. I just could not get into it. But, if you are into reading about rebuilding societies, governments, and militaries this book may be for you. In that case, I would definitely recommend you read Into the Light.
And if you have read Out of the Dark, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.