The Darkness Outside Us (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Ambrose wakes up in a spaceship on a mission to save his sister on Titan. She was on a mission to create a human settlement, but her settlement went dark far too soon after she landed. As he explores the ship, completes maintenance tasks, and generally messes around, he realizes that there is another ship and person tied to his own. Kodiak is from a rival nation and doesn’t seem keen on communication. As they drift through space they drift towards each other and figure out what they are really doing on this mission.


Elliot Schrefer creates an entire universe within the confines of a ship and two almost opposite personalities. He uses this scarce setting to explore so much about love and humanity's future. This is a fantastic book for folks getting into science fiction or someone just looking for a story to get lost in. - Izzy


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— From Jocund July Staff Picks


They Both Die at the End meets The Loneliest Girl in the Universe in this mind-bending sci-fi mystery and tender love story about two boys aboard a spaceship sent on a rescue mission, from two-time National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer.

Two boys, alone in space. Sworn enemies sent on the same rescue mission.

Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing his own sister.

In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust each other . . . especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.

About the Author

Eliot Schrefer is a New York Times bestselling author, has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and has won the Green Earth Book Award and the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for Children’s Literature. His novels include the Lost Rainforest series, Endangered, Threatened, Rescued, Orphaned, and two books in the Spirit Animals series. He lives in New York City, is on the faculty of the Hamline University and Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in creative writing programs, and reviews books for USA Today. Visit him online at

Praise For…

"Schrefer masterfully evokes and maintains suspense that keeps the pages turning briskly while still taking the time to limn the two boys’ touching, moving relationship. If all of this is space opera, readers will want an encore. Bravo."
Booklist (starred review)

"3, 2, 1…blastoff for mystery, adventure, and queer intergalactic bodice-ripping."
Kirkus Reviews

"[A] sexy space odyssey. Schrefer’s immersive novel combines the build of mysteries and the tension of romance, slowly unfurling an iterative story about love and attraction, destiny, and connection. "
Publishers Weekly

"Schrefer does an excellent job of developing and humanizing his characters before throwing them into the swift waters of a sci-fi plot with its truly shocking and satisfying twist. Readers are sure to root for these lovable characters’ survival."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"Yes, The Darkness Outside Us is utterly inventive and relentlessly page-turning. And yes, Ambrose and Kodiak are seriously the hottest couple in space. But even more, this is an insightful, tender, and profound story, about the weight of history, and the power of transformation and true love."
— Deb Caletti, National Book Award finalist and author of A Heart in a Body in the World 

“Fiercely imaginative and desperately real, The Darkness Outside Us explores the wild expanses of the human heart. This book is a triumph.” 
— Elana K. Arnold, author of Damsel, a Printz Honor Book

"The Darkness Outside Us is equal parts terrifying, tender, and thrilling. I loved every word of this sharp, thoughtful look at the world we live in and the ones beyond." 
— Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of Little & Lion

“Absolutely brilliant. The Darkness Outside Us is a pulse-pounding thriller, engrossing science fiction epic, and heartfelt meditation on love all at once.”
— Malinda Lo, Author of Ash
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062888280
ISBN-10: 0062888285
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Pages: 416
Language: English