Way Down Dark by James Smythe ~Goodreads~
Published by Hodder & Stoughton 2015
Paperback edition 288 pages ~The Book Depository~
There’s one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both.
Seventeen year old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.
The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.
But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness- a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead…
Despite a slow start to this book it explodes into action when violence arises from the differing groups; the Lows, Bells, and the Pale Women who live on Australia- a spaceship floating in amongst the stars…
The Lows becoming ever more violent are slowly taking over the ship from its deepest depths, that’s when our heroic seventeen year old Chan comes in. Orphaned and living with family friend Agatha, it’s only so long before she decides to take action and fight back.
What I liked most about Chan is that she’s very grown up for her age, she’s not blind to the fact of life. The guilt of killing someone doesn’t phase, survival is her continual battle and she seems to be the protagonist I’ve been waiting for from a dystopian novel and I think her background is what makes her so thick-skinned. We’re not really given a description of what Chan looks like other than because of lice she shaved her head, conveying again a matter of fact attitude, a thinker and someone who does what is necessary to solve a problem.
There’s a lot of world building in this book, and we’re kept in the dark to the end as to why they’re on this ship called Australia. We’re not certain as to how Earth was apparently destroyed, so I’m hoping this will be cleared up in the next book in the trilogy!
The spaceship Australia seemed like a place where people had come to die, not as somewhere to live. Poverty and degradation reeked all over, no authoritative figures to restrain the various groups from fighting. Nothing seemed to give the people living there a reason to life.
With a hell of a cliffhanger, Way Down Dark is a reasonably short book, but nonetheless packed full of mystery that brings up the harsh reality of what a hard life can entail. Smythe’s writing really got to me in this novel, he made me really think about the consequences of a corrupt world. It’s the beginning of a fierce, on-the-edge battle for survival. A brilliant start to what I think will be an extraordinary trilogy, bring on the second book!