Book Review: A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel

Imagine everything you thought you knew about human progress was wrong. What would you do?

Mia is not sure what she is, but she isn’t human. Smarter, stronger than her peers, all she knows are the rules: there can never be three for too long; always run, never fight.

When she finds herself in Germany, 1945, she must turn the Nazi’s most trusted scientist with an offer: abandon the crumbling Nazi party, escape Germany with your life, come to work for the Americans building rockets.

But someone is watching her work. An enemy who’s smarter, stronger, decidedly not human and prepared to do anything to retrieve something ancient that was long lost.

If only she had any idea what it was . . . 

Book cover of A History of What Comes next. Black background with a red rocket. There is a door at the base of the rocket that a girl is running in to .

This was add odd but strangely compelling book. Although clearly fiction there are a lot of real world historical events included with an in depth accuracy making it feel almost non-fictional at points. Essentially A History of What Comes Next takes us through parts of the Space Race largely from a German and Soviet perspective, starting with rocket scientists during the second world war. Instead of this race playing out of its own accord, we see a race of aliens (limited to a mother and daughter team) influence and push those involved to make it happen. Desperately trying to fulfil their own task to ‘take them to the stars’ which is one of the few rules they have to live by. Mother and daughter don’t know why they are doing it, that knowledge was lost by their ancestors long ago, just that the rules are handed down from generation to generation.

Mother and daughter are themselves in danger, perpetually hunted by the one they call the ‘Tracker’ who seems to be their male equivalent. They know to ‘fear the Tracker’ but again have lost all knowledge of why.

Throughout the book we get odd flashbacks to previous generations of the mother/daughter pairing of that time and how things played out for them. These were interesting interludes but sometimes felt a little jarring.

Enjoyable but odd, I think sums this one up for me.

A History of What Comes Next is available now.

With thanks to Michael Joseph books for sending me a copy in exchange for honest review.

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