Overview (No Spoilers):
A History of What Comes Next seamlessly mashes together aliens, the Space Race, WW2, and the Cold War, along with well placed flashbacks throughout history in this fascinating, fast-paced adventure that will keep the reader eagerly flipping pages to find out what danger lies hidden in the next paragraphs. Neuvel reimagines well known events and individuals around the mid 20th century, such as the development of rockets in WW2 and during the race to the moon, when orchestrated under the shadow influence of a mother/daughter pair whose ancestors, and their laser focused objective, span many millennia. These women have obtained significant power and influence during a time when women’s opportunities were significantly limited, all the while maintaining to stay hidden behind the scenes. Needless to say, I was hooked from the first chapter. Having read quite a few books regarding this era, especially surrounding the race to the moon and the scientists behind those advances, it was highly entertaining to see these individuals brought to life under the guise of mysterious backseat players coordinating events and discoveries. Already a captivating premise, Neuvel packs in another suspenseful, shadowy element of the mysterious Trackers who continually search for the mother/daughter physicists. Regardless of good vs. evil, both parties leave destruction and death in their wake, throughout this book.
The main mother/daughter pair that the book mainly focuses upon, though we are granted glimpses of many of their ancestors through flashbacks, are Sarah and Mia. We meet Mia at a formative time when she is being thrust by Sarah into taking on more responsibilities and encounters much danger in order to further their cause. Of course there are growing pains and adolescent rebellions against the established norm of their unique existence that added a surprising level of normalcy to a story that defies tradition.
While Neuvel answers many of the lingering questions surrounding the history of the Tracker and the Kibsu, the detail loving part of me would have loved more information and anecdotes regarding how Sarah and Mia were able to manipulate and navigate the red tape surrounding super secretive programs in governments that were already in high alert.
It likely would have been easier for Neuvel to incorporate more imaginary characters and events into A History of What Comes Next, instead of tying this shadow history to real life people and occurrences. I can only imagine the level of research Neuvel would have had to embark upon to pull off such a well rounded and throughout storyline. Between The Themis Files, The Test and now A History of What Comes Next, I will read anything Neuvel writes. Overall, A History of What Comes Next is a delightful reimagining of familiar individuals and influential events under the machinations of unseen hands with millennium and world spanning motivations.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Why could there only be three for a short amount of time? It seems like a potential waste of knowledge with the Grandmother committing suicide shortly after the birth of the third generation. I love that Neuvel gave us the backstory as to how many of the rules of the Kibsu came to be! The rule that there could only be two was especially heartbreaking as over time the real reason behind why it was established has been lost.
- I loved that Neuvel answered what happened to the Kibsu who broke the chain of information. It would have been so easy to leave that mystery unexplained.
- What do the Kibsu people naturally look like before mixing with the human race?
- How will “taking them to the stars” save the human race from the original people of the Kibsu and the Trackers?
- As technology advances, how will the Kibsu manage to stay secret and continue their behind the scenes manipulations. With surveillance and the internet it seems like it would be more difficult for them to continually move and start life over to avoid the Tracker.
- How will the Trackers recover after their near miss and the deaths of the brothers?