Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: Way Down Dark by JP Smythe

Title: Way Down Dark
Author: JP Smythe
Series: The Australia Trilogy, Book One
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published Date: 2 July 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

The first in an extraordinary new YA trilogy by James Smythe, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

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.

Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery - a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.

And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain
. (summary from Goodreads)


Way Down Dark is certainly action-packed and fast paced!

Way Down Dark is one dark and intense read. It gets the heart pumping, that's for sure. It packs quite the whollop action wise, as it's pretty violent and very quick, so it's really go, go, go! I liked that about this book because it kept me hooked. I needed that because some of the story elements of Way Down Dark were familiar, having been used in other novels, and so I had an inkling where the story was headed. I'm not saying it copied any other book, not at all - just that some dystopian trends are obvious. It's still very interesting, despite this, as only some answers are revealed and the biggest one is still to come, following one heck of a cliffhanger. This book is not for the lighthearted. When I say it's dark and violent, I really mean it. This is one ship, full to the brim with people with certain allegiances, all with their own rules and territory, vying for even more. It is kill or be killed, and Smythe describes it all in a detail that will certainly play on your mind. Like people swimming through The Pit, made up of waste and decomposing who knows what, best not to think about it. There's definitely an ick factor to Way Down Dark. What also works well is Way Down Dark's shifting point of views. For the most part, the story is told from Chan's point of view, but here and there we get insight from Agatha. These encompass the past and present and offer the most answers to what's going on. It make for some intrigue. Still, I wish Way Down Dark was that little bit more original plot wise. Even with the heart-pounding action, it could still be tedious at times, recognising where Smythe was going with certain things.

Smythe's characters are as impacting as his action. Chan is a great MC. She's aware of the dangers and her place in life, ready and able to be strong and fight, but still afraid. I both liked and got frustrated by her morals. But this is what makes her relatable despite the out there setting and situation. Chan is so very human. Agatha is Chan without the morals, in a way. Also strong and capable, even in old age, but less inclined to help others. For Agatha, it's just about surviving, no matter how selfishly. It's interesting, as between Chan and Agatha both sides of the fight or flight response are covered. The real comparison is between Chan and Rex. Rex is the complete opposite of Chan, ready and loving to kill, something borderline animalistic. Her and her 'people' remind me of the Reavers from Firefly and Serenity. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series to see where both Chan and Rex end up, and what the cliffhanger means for their relationship - for lack of a better word! Jonah I'm not too sure what to make of. I get the feeling there's more to his story, or at least I hope so. His and Chan's relationship was just beginning and I'd like to see where Smythe takes them too. All of these characters are hard and violent, suiting the tone of the story. None are especially emotional or endearing, but Smythe still ensures we're rooting for Chan.

Way Down Dark is a gritty, hard hitting read that is sure to please fans of dystopian. 

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