Review: The Darwin Elevator

July 30, 2013 at 8:36 am | Posted in Books, scifi/fantasy | 2 Comments
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The-Darwin-Elevator-USIn the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity. (Cover blurb)

What happens when you present zombies, (relatively) hard science, and post apocalyptic dystopia to a reviewer who likes none of the above?  Well, you get a shocked reviewer who is happily wrong about all of that when this so right book comes along.  I know, I know it sounds like every hot genre of the moment mashed together so how can it be good?  Trust me, it’s not just good.  It’s fantastic — because Jason Hough can write a kick ass story in a world with characters that jump right off the page, and spring to life right before your eyes. What starts off feeling like an abrupt drop into the middle of things turns into a thumping good adventure, one with enough twists and turns to keep you page turning for hours.

The significant characters in The Darwin Elevator fall into three distinct and disparate groups.  You have Skyler Luiken, the main protagonist, and his crew of immune scavengers.    While Skyler is the leader of his motley crew, he got the job because the original captain quite literally did a walk-about.  With the job dropped precipitously in his lap, neither Skyler nor his crew are quite sure he’s up to it.  Though Skyler and his crew are definitely survivors, the real question of Skyler’s leadership has yet to be answered.  So far the answer’s not looking all that good.

In Darwin there’s Russell Blackfield who controls Nightcliff, where the elevator is located.  Blackfield is decidedly not a nice guy, but he is serving a necessary purpose.   His methods are brutal and crude, but he does protect the elevator which is absolutely essential to sustain life both in Darwin and on the space stations.  The orbitals along the elevator supply food to the precarious city below.  In turn, Darwin supplies air and water to the orbitals.  Despite his relative power on Earth, Blackfield’s real ambition is to be at the other end of the elevator.

At the other end of the elevator is Neil Platz and his protege, Dr. Tania Sharma, who trusts Neil completely.  Platz knows more than he’s saying about the Builders and their elevator, and he’s got an agenda.  Whether or not it’s benign is anyone’s guess, but Neil is a couple of steps ahead of everyone else, and he’ll manipulate anyone to achieve his ends.  By throwing Tania and Skyler together, Platz is the catalyst for what follows.

In The Darwin Elevator, Jason Hough has created a world and its people that’s totally believable.  His world building, from a ravaged Earth to the sterile orbitals above it, is simply amazing.  As you’re reading, you can feel the physicality of this world and it’s new social order.  His characters ring true, and you understand why each of them survives this graphic new reality.  Good, bad, ambiguous or amoral, the characters are vividly genuine.  The book doesn’t start slow, but the pacing is excellent as the story ramps up.  As far as the science goes, Hough has provides enough to make it believable and comprehensible.  He is smart enough to not inundate the story with so much information it kills the pacing and our interest.   Jason Hough is quite simply a superlative writer.

The Darwin Elevator is the first novel in the Dire Earth Trilogy.  The end isn’t really an end, but it is a great conclusion to this chapter of the story.  It’s a conclusion that’s going to leave you impatient for the next installment.  I can promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Exodus Towers and The Plague Forge release August 27 and September 24.  You can read a prequel story, Wave of Infection, at TOR.  You can find the author at Jason M. Hough.

I give The Darwin Elevator 5 out of 5 metal bikinis.

 photo onebrassbikini_zps5209027c.png photo onebrassbikini_zps5209027c.png photo onebrassbikini_zps5209027c.png photo onebrassbikini_zps5209027c.png photo onebrassbikini_zps5209027c.png

Reviewed by Geralyn for Roqoo Depot


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  1. […] You can read our interview with Jason M. Hough here and our review of The Darwin Elevator here. […]

  2. […] Review: The Darwin Elevator ( […]

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