It was with great difficulty that I settled down to begin listening to Shadows of Tomorrow, with narrator Jake Urry typecast in my mind after his powerfully unsettling reading of John Nicholl’s White is the Coldest Colour. Nicholl’s writing and Urry’s reading still burn in my memory as the most disturbing audiobook I’ve had the privilege of hearing.
My trepidation was uncalled for, thankfully. Jessica Meats’ futuristic action story is unique and exciting enough that Urry’s distinct voice soon focussed my mind on the adventure at hand. They’re another dynamic duo in the art of storytelling.
Shadows of Tomorrow is a mish-mash of genres that embodies military action, romance, science fiction, mystery, politics and coming-of-age. It sounds too much but it blends seamlessly into a fully fleshed-out, epic escapade.
On a future Earth, portals are opening randomly, allowing alien hunters through with the singular goal of eating fresh prey. The armed forces protecting our planet are known as Defenders and, through the eyes of new recruits, we learn of their struggles and successes under the leadership of Master Gareth Walker.
Walker remembers future events and struggles daily with sending soldiers off to war knowing their fate before they leave. When one soldier plays a prank that backfires however, unexpected events whisk Walker away to another world whose fate is tied in with Earth’s and where he finds his future memories are reaching their end.
The writing is tight and the action is high from end to end but, more than that, Jessica Meats has created a cast of flawed but wonderful characters that we care deeply about. There is so much going on, and so many characters involved, that it’s easy to get submersed in Meats’ world and forget to come up for breath.
Jake Urry gives another fine performance. He’s a narrator that not only handles pace and emotion expertly, but he’s a master of subtly. Where other narrators excel in offering distinct character voices, Urry uses inflection, tone and speech patterns to let you know who’s talking. His characterisations are just as distinct and effective. His hypnotic voice croons out of the speakers, suckering the listener deeper into the book.
Released by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers Ltd in March 2016, the unabridged audiobook of Shadows of Tomorrow runs for approximately 10 hours and 30 minutes and is available through audible.