The story you are about to delve into is historical fiction with a blend of sci-fi/fantasy elements that make it seem both very familiar and otherworldly ... The narrative reads like a high-octane history book with space, the final frontier, as the ultimate destination. The plot is left wide open for a continuation of this saga, and I truly hope that Neuvel follows through with a sequel.
... a compelling setup during a fascinating moment in history ... The vast majority of A History of What Comes Next is told from the perspectives of Sarah and Mia, and the first person/present tense approach makes for a genuinely gripping read during the novel’s many daring escapes, chase sequences, and fights for dear life. The tradeoff comes via some other elements being relegated to the background. Sarah often speaks about her work influencing the American and Soviet space programs, but there’s little firsthand sense of how she’s pulling this off. Maybe Neuvel plans to get into this in later books of this series, or maybe it’s intended to be somewhat mysterious, but I found myself curious about how Sarah was pulling all of this off ... The immediacy of the narration also bolsters the worldbuilding Neuvel carries out here ... manages to feel reasonably complete while simultaneously setting up the framework for larger stories—neither of which is a small accomplishment ... a fascinating perspective on where this particular shadow history is coming from.
Neuvel showcases meticulous research through his worldbuilding, highlighted by his own notes and references at the end. A highly crafted and unique look at the space race, through the eyes of those who exist only to ensure its success ... Neuvel’s intriguing first-contact story is set through centuries of manipulation and pursuit. It’s a promising start to what looks to be a dark and exciting trilogy.