Dark Made Dawn – JP Smythe

This review will include spoilers for books 1 & 2 of the Australia trilogy

Outside the city walls there are animals. They survived whatever happened before, and ‘they’re surviving now.’

dark made dawnThere was one truth on Australia, the derelict ship on which Chan was born and raised; you fight or you die. Usually both.
But everything on Australia was a lie. Abandoned and alone, Chan was forced to live a terrible existence on the fringes of society, Australia’s only survivor after a terrible crash-landing on Earth.
But Chan discovered she was not alone. Together with the unlikeliest of allies, Chan carved out a place for herself on Earth. And now the time has come; she’s finally found a reason to keep going. But friends have become enemies, and enemies have become something worse. It’s time for Chan to create her own truths, and discover a life beyond fighting and death.
A life beyond Australia.

What I thought

In my review for the 2nd book in this trilogy, ‘Long Dark Dusk’  I praised the way the tone of the book reflected the state that Chan was in, starting very uncertain, turning bland before finally settling down in the final part. This book didn’t have those tonal shift as it hit the ground running and never stopped to take a breath. Chan has grown so much from the first time we meet her burning her mother’s body to try and appear stronger than she was. She’s now fully comfortable in her own skin and in the world that she has found herself in. No longer is she unsure of Earth and its people, now she knows how to work the system to her advantage in order to find what she wants. Metaphorically she is no longer the ugly duckling and is now a beautiful deadly swan, because make no mistake Chan is deadly.

The whole trilogy blurs the lines of ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ and none more than this one as Chan allies herself with Rex, someone she swore to kill in the first book. Their need for company and for someone who understands them binds them together and forms a genuine friendship. Something no one could have seen coming when reading ‘Long Down Dark’ but doesn’t come across as forced, there are some things that are stronger than hate and a desperate need to not be alone is one of them.

As much as the people and officials on Earth are corrupt and make some REALLY bad choices of what to do with the people of Australia, you can’t help but understand why they do the things they did. Earth has become a very secular society and if you don’t have money you’re thrown away and then a spaceship literally falls from the sky carrying people who have only known violence. I don’t think that they think what they are doing is wrong, they are trying to look out for the many and not the few or the minorities.
It another example of the lines being blurred, there isn’t a right or wrong answer and one of the major reasons we’re against the officials is because we’re seeing it through Chan’s POV. And as a minority and as a wanted criminal she can see all the problems. In contrast although Zielger (the journalist from the previous book) can see all the same problems he still thinks there is a way to fix it from inside the system. His hope is in people being mostly good and that the corrupt are the minority.

His belief in the innate goodness of humanity takes a massive hit in this book and I love that his journalist book about Chan and what life was like in Australia ends up being published as ‘fiction’. It’s a perfect way to undermine him and the work that he has done, if it was banned people would want to read it to know why and it would be assumed to be truth due to the cover up. By marking it as fiction they aren’t stopping people from reading it, or even from it becoming a best seller, but it means that if any more research or information about Australia is published it’s automatically going to be assumed to be lies.

Finally, without spoiling anything I want to talk about the ending. As much as I love it I’m not convinced it counts as the happy ending that it’s presented as. I love that Chan realises that it’s not just her and Rex who are unhappy in this society, after meeting the Nomads she has a fuller understanding of all the people left aside in this ‘utopia’.
It’s taken the whole story back in a circle to the beginning but without the violence and anger and yet I can see it wouldn’t take much for that violence to return with limited resources. It’s a great fix and solution for everyone currently but I can see it going wrong in a few generations.

The whole trilogy is a brilliant example of dark YA, the violence isn’t there for the sake of blood, guts, and gore. It has a place and a reason. Firstly, because it is the only way to survive on Australia and then later Chan does her best to not revert to it as an option trying to deal with things without the need to force in a new world.
Chan is a great character who grows in confidence and strength and jumps off the page from the very beginning. Her growth is believable, and her decision making is understandable. Every choice she makes is done to try and keep the promise she made to her mother to ‘be selfish’ as that’s the only way she can survive but also to make the best of each situation she is thrown into. As she grows she finds that being selfish can also involve helping others and that learning to lean on them doesn’t make her weak or vulnerable.

Why I read it

It’s the final of a trilogy and I had burned through the other two, plus it helped that I had ordered this from the library in advance of finishing the 2nd so it was waiting for me when I needed it.

Final Thought

This conclusion to the Australia trilogy is fast paced and doesn’t let up for a minute. Chan is a great character and I love the relationship between her and Rex. The change from enemy to friend is a realistic one. Her desperate search for Mae and for someone who understands her is done really well and rings true.

I loved this trilogy and the way that the author sets the world up, it’s so brilliantly dark and desperate with small moments of shining light and hope and humanity.

Would I recommend? This is a really good dark space dystopian YA trilogy and I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before. More people should be talking about it.



PopSugar: The next book in a series you’ve started, time of day in the title, about a villain/antihero, borrowed/given as a gift, alliteration in the title.


I hope everyone’s festive period was as good as it could be and that you weren’t alone. I know I’ve slipped (again) with these reviews and I’m *coughcough*6 months behind *coughcough* but I’m determined to finish 2018s reviews and to keep going.

As always let me know what you think and if my words have made you interested.
Also let me know if you’re still reading, I’d love to know how many people have stayed with me over long periods of absence. 


The next review is ‘Nemesis’ by Brandon Reichs

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