Way Down Dark by JP Smythe 

I’ve been trying to catch up on some books I’ve been sent to review via Bookbridgr; I had started reading a chick lit novel in case you were all getting YA fatigue, but the characters really annoyed me, so I had to put it down for a bit.

Way Down Dark is the first book in a trilogy, set in a bleak dystopian future.

From the blurb:

“Imagine a nightmare from which there is no escape.

Seventeen-year-old Chan’s ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.

This is a hell where no one can hide.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs.

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.

This is Australia.”

Chan and her mother Riadne live in the “free” section of the ship Australia.  It is free in that the people who live in that section don’t belong to a gang. There are 3 main gangs onboard: The Lows who live in the bowels of the ship, are thugs and like to fight each other; The Bells who are big, brawny, aggressive and stupid; and the Pale Women, who live at the top of the ship in darkness, praying and reading religious texts. At the very bottom of the ship is the Pit, where the bodies of the dead decompose along with the rest of the ship’s detritus.

The inhabitants of Australia believe that they were part of an escape attempt; the Earth was destroyed, so the colonies sent out ships in all directions looking for a new home. Centuries later they still haven’t found a new home and the ship is falling apart.

Australia is a brutal, vicious place. Only the strong survive and strength seems to be measured by the number of people who are afraid of you. Violence is the only way to advance in society; to gain control you must take it by killing the current leader.
As the story begins Chan’s mother is dying from a tumour; to protect her daughter, Riadne comes up with a plan to make it look like Chan killed her. Chan needs the rest of the ship, especially the Lows and their terrifying leader Rex, to believe that she is a formidable opponent and not to be messed with, but this is just the beginning of a territory war that may tear the whole ship apart.

On the whole I enjoyed this book, Chan is a strong female protagonist who you really want to survive, but there were a few things that bugged me, and a few times I thought she acted in ways which were really, really stupid.

If you’re at all familiar with the history of Great Britain and the colonies the big “twist” probably won’t come as a huge shock. I could see it coming very early on, but it was still enjoyable.

It’s wonderful that in a culture where violence thrives, and you have to be able to fight to survive, Chan reveres life and doesn’t want to be a murderer, but on at least 3 occasions I was screaming “just kill the b*tch” at the book. As I was on a train this went down quite well with my travelling companions.

My main annoyance was that the author seemed to run out of ways to explain how Chan was feeling- the phrase “never felt pain like it” was used at least 4 times, and twice within a couple of pages.

On the whole a very interesting and fast paced story, I have the sequel on my to-be-read pile and look forward to reading it.

Let me know if you have read Way Down Dark or its sequel in the comments below.




Stephani Xxx

4 thoughts on “Way Down Dark by JP Smythe 

  1. This sounds like a unique book! I died when you said, “on at least 3 occasions I was screaming “just kill the b*tch” at the book. As I was on a train this went down quite well with my travelling companions.” I can only imagine, haha.


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