I will keep it as spoiler free as possible but this is book 2 of a series so there is only so much I can do.
‘She says that her name is Alala, but I’m not sure if I believe her. She says that her name has a meaning, that in the language her ancestors spoke it would carry some weight, but she doesn’t know what it is now’
The moment she learned the horrible truth about her life on Australia, the derelict ship overrun with violent gangs, Chan Aitch made it her mission to save everyone she could from their fate worse than death. But her efforts were in vain. Now, everyone she cares about is dead or in prison, and Chan is more alone than ever before.
As the only person to have escaped Australia’s terrible crash-landing back to Earth, Chan is now living in poverty on the fringes of a huge city. She believes Mae, the little girl she once rescued on the Australia, is still alive – but she has no idea where Mae is, or how to find her. Everything on Earth is strange and new, and Chan has never felt more lost.
But she’ll do whatever it takes to find Mae, even if it means going to prison herself. She’s broken out of prison before. How hard could it be to do it again?
What I thought
The tone of this book is really different to the first one, Way Down Dark is violent because it is the only way to survive and live in Australia. There isn’t a choice, everyone is desperate for space and food and if the only way to get it is to hurt someone else then that is what you will do. Back on Earth there is technology and plenty of space and food. It’s theoretically got everything that Chan has ever wanted and yet it’s clear that Chan doesn’t fit into this world. And that’s not just because people are searching for her due to her crashing Australia back down on earth. She’s just got a completely different mindset from ‘normal’ people. Chan makes herself a home in the outskirts of the city, a place full of druggies and people who can’t live inside the city walls. it’s a world where you don’t have to dig too deep to find the dirty undercity, the parts that people try to ignore.
Where Way Down Dark was claustrophobic the tone of this one is much more open to possibility. There isn’t a sense of being closed in on all sides, of limited space.
For me the highlight in the writing is that the tone and the feeling of the book doesn’t really settle until part 3 when Chan finally does. Part 1 feels very unsure as though it could go in any and no direction, it keeps returning to violence because that’s all that Chan knows. Part 2 is very bland, it’s interesting in it’s uninteresting-ness. The sky is blue. Everyone is nice. It’s dull, but it’s supposed to be dull, it’s only as things start to change that the sentence structure, writing, and description becomes more in-depth. You look a bit further past the simplicity that is being portrayed. And then in part 3 when Chan has come back to herself again it’s more than that. She’s moved on from being the person who burned her mothers body in the first book, from being scared of this new world, Chan has become fully comfortable in her skin and the world she’s in. The tone of the book stabalises. It’s really clever writing as I didn’t fully pick up on it until I made my notes for this review (3 months ago). I wasn’t sure how I felt about the first third of this book but it’s because Chan doesn’t know what she thinks and the story is from her POV. If the narrator doesn’t know how they feel how is the reader supposed to know?
The relationships between the characters – old and new – continue to be strong. This books introduces us to Ziegler – a journalist – and Alala – a drug dealer and Chan’s contact for information. They are both very different, Ziegler wants to believe the best in humanity. He want’s to understand and to tell people stories that’ll make the world a better place. He honestly thinks that if Chan tells her story people will listen to it and believe it. He thinks it’ll make society better and it’s only in telling her story will Chan be able to find Mae (a child that Chan had started looking after in Australia). He knows that the world isn’t perfect but believes in humanity’s ability to get better. It’s a great contrast to Chan who learned from a young age how to defend herself due to necessity. Chan wants to believe the best but has been brought up to see the potential for the worst and how to use it to her advantage if needed. Ziegler has hope in the solution being inside society and fixing from the inside. Chan wants to believe him but as a complete outsider can’t help but spot every problem in the journalists ideas.
In contrast Alala is a big fish in a small pond. She runs the drug trade in her part of the outskirts of the city. Everyone either owes her a favour or she has dirt on them. Or they are an addict who’ll do anything or her. Her view of humanity is much more like Chan’s and yet the two still butt heads. Alala is quite happy to turn to violence but Chan is trying to move on from that. She’s been forced to violence so many times and will go there again if needed but would prefer to never have to. It makes for an interesting relationship and Chan needs Alala so she can find out what happened to everyone else on Australia.
Why I read it
As I said for ‘Way Down Dark’ I managed to get the first two books in the this trilogy for £2.50 each because of a very slight damage on both covers. I picked up this one as soon as I got home after finishing the first in this trilogy, I also ordered the third as I knew I would want to read that one ASAP. I’ll often either read the next book in a series straight away or will wait months.
This is a brilliant continuation of the world that was set up in Way Down Dark. JP Smythe continued to capture attention and making the world realistically bleak and uncomfortable. I love the change in tones and the strengths of the characters. I didn’t know what I wanted or expected from book 2 but it surpassed every expectation.
Also the fact that Australia was a prison ship is made me laugh out loud on the train and send messages to my friends in Melbourne. The idea of it still makes me laugh now, and somehow I did not see it coming.
WOULD I RECOMMEND? IT’S A GREAT DARK AND INTENSE YA SCI-FI AND ONE THAT SHOULD BE TALKED ABOUT MORE. IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE BUT IF YOU LIKE DARKER NOVELS THEN I WOULD DEFINITELY SUGGEST THIS TRILOGY
(Obviously read book 1 before this one)
PopSugar: Next book in a series you’ve started, Time of day in the title, about a villain/antihero, alliteration in the title.
Clearly I haven’t managed to write a blog a day in November, it seems this was a much harder challenge than I thought. but I’m still going to try and write as much as possible.
I loved this series and am looking forward to writing the third review while continuing to stay as spoiler free as possible.
let me know what you think.
P.S To no ones surprise the next review is book 3 of this series Dark Made Dawn.