Review of Beneath the Surface by Rebecca Langham

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Title:  Beneath the Surface

Author: Rebecca Langham

Reviewer: Kel E Fox

Synopsis: When a change in collective conscious sends the Outsiders, a group of aliens, to the shadows below the city, humans reason that the demonization of their peers is simply more “humane.” There’s no question, nor doubt. Just acceptance.

Lydia had embraced that sense of “truth” for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a powerful governor, she has been able to live her life with more comforts than most. Comforts can be suffocating, though, and when the opportunity to teach Outsider children in their private, “humane” community becomes available, she takes it.

What she finds beneath the city is far from the truth she had grown to know. There she meets Alessia, an Outsider with the knowledge and will to shake the foundation of all those who walk above ground. The two find a new and unexpected connection despite a complete disconnect from the technological world. Or perhaps in spite of it.

Still, it takes a lot more than an immutable connection to change the world. Lydia, Alessia, and a small group of Outsiders must navigate a system of corruption, falsehoods, and twists none of them ever saw coming, all while holding on to the hope to come out alive in the end. But it’s a risk worth taking, and a future worth fighting for.


Review: Beneath the Surface by Rebecca Langham is one of those books that you should go into knowing very little about the story, because the delight is in the unfolding detail. When my partner asked what I was reading, and I gave a summary, his response was ‘how on earth did the author fit all that story into one novel?’!

I thought I knew what it was about, but I didn’t. Then I thought I had it figured out, and I was still wrong. The story keeps changing on you in a subtle meta-like fashion that reflects the true meaning of the book.

What can I tell you? Beneath the Surface is set in the future of Earth, when climate change has made the planet all but uninhabitable, technology has advanced to a dangerous state and aliens have finally visited—as refugees fleeing war on their home planet. With the future of humanity barely hanging on, a united world government is formed to take control of unregulated scientific advancements and provide more hospitable places for what remains of the human civilisation to live. And that’s just the backdrop for Lydia’s story.

Lydia Barrett exiles herself from her life of unwanted fame and heads underground to a subterranean facility dedicated to the care of an alien colony. Here she finds far more than she expected.

I love a good love story, but I don’t read much romance because … well, there are a lot of reasons. The main one is probably a general lack of dragons and/or conspiracies. Finding a true love story woven into a dystopian sci-fi tale is delicious, and Langham does an excellent job of making the romance real without letting it take over the story. Despite the relentless current of curiosity about what was really going on, I found myself reading more and more for Lydia’s evolving relationship. The two forces of unfolding mystery and emerging love pull at each other to add complexity and realness to the story.

I can’t say much about the ending without giving it away, but I enjoyed the insidiousness of the reality Langham portrayed. If anything, the conclusion felt a little short, even with a sequel in the works. I just wanted a bit more of Lydia’s relationships with her parents and her lover before the end.

If anything put me off slightly, it was the switching point of view, primarily because of the sections from Damon’s perspective (Lydia’s father). Multiple POV is something I often find difficult, as I become too engrossed in the current character’s perspective and get mad when I have to change. My problem for sure, but I felt like I had a pretty good idea of Damon’s character just seeing him through Lydia’s eyes. I realise that for plotting purposes, sometimes a switch in POV is most efficient, but less of Damon would have suited me. Then again, he’s pretty deplorable, so in terms of characterisation, Langham has hit the mark.

Overall, an intriguing read with an engaging love story and multi-layered deception that, depending on how you want to read it, says a lot about the real world.

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