Down the Rabbit Hole (A review of EFC Book 9: Kyo) By Tom Pahlow

My first EFC read, Book 9: Kyo

Review by Tom Pahlow

Kyo, by Julian Fernandes, was my first foray into the Earths Final Chapter Series and I couldn’t put it down. It has everything. Mutants, politics (the fun kind), an underwater city, robots, a mech suit shark people and more. All packed into 49 pages and interspersed with beautiful illustrations by Marta Maszkiewicz. Don’t worry about it being book number 9 either, no pre-reading is required to enjoy it (Though, I can sense a deep dive into the series in my immediate future)

In Kyo, we get to see the first meeting of the isolationist and underwater nation of Japan and the crew of the Bullet-1, a reconnaissance submarine from the Oceanic Alliance. Tensions mount as both sides try to figure out how to proceed. Underpinning the whole encounter is the political uncertainty of Japan as its enigmatic and cunning leader Kyo relinquishes his seat of power.

As I read the story, I found the titular character increasingly enthralling. In the lead up to the story, he has made a series of bold and secretive moves to guide his nation into the future. Only a handful of his fellow leaders seem to comprehend how far ahead he is planning and it made me desperate to see how the disparate threads of his plan string together.

Kyo isn’t the only interesting character in the story, though, and a whole cast of characters make appearances. What struck me most about the other characters in Kyo was that none of them felt like extras. While I would have liked to see their personalities come through a little more naturally, they were each fleshed out and it made the story come alive.

In the real world, I’m not someone who enjoys politics. I try to stay up to date but I generally don’t want the play by plays. In a story, however, I love to see backroom scheming and political espionage. Kyo has that in spades. Every character has their own agenda, from survival to alliance and even the future of a nation and the world. Fernandes even plays with characters having different ideas of the right path to take without needlessly villainising one or the other.

There were times when I questioned how the story was progressing – like the crew of the Bullet-1 making a lot of choices on behalf of the Oceanic Alliance despite it not being clear that they had any authority to do so – but that could easily come down to my inexperience with the series and it kept the story going.

Going into the experience, the only thing I knew of the EFC series was that it was a collection of stand-alone stories that, together, told a much larger one. I felt a sense of scale while reading, that this was one among possibly thousands of stories within a fully fleshed out world.

The technology, differing cultures, mutations and power dynamics were unique and hinted at rich lore I can’t wait to delve into. If you want a story to pull you into another world you can’t go wrong with Kyo.