The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

July 29, 2013 Review 0 ★★★★★

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. HoughThe Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
Series: The Dire Earth Cycle #1
Published by Del Ray on July 30, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
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In 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.

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough is a great example of everything I want in a science fiction/action book. The book is full of action and suspense, and the pacing is incredibly well done. There are aliens (though we never see them), people who are more like zombies than humans, spaceships, space stations, incredible technology, and what is left of humanity is torn between the nitty-gritty of the surface world, and the glossy life of being up at the space station.

The Darwin Elevator is set in the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia. This is where the last of humans live because this is the only place on Earth where they are safe from the mindless sub-humans who have been reduced to their most basic of instincts. The Elevator, created by the aliens who no one has ever seen, is what keeps the people safe, while at the same time is most likely the cause of the disease.

Skyler Luiken is immune to the disease that causes humans to become like this, and so is the rest of his crew on his ship. He and his crew go on missions so scavenge for supplies, and yes, sometimes that involves smuggling. (Sounds a lot like Firefly, doesn’t it? Just with less cowboys.) He gets tapped to help Dr. Tania Sharma locate data cubes that will help to learn when the aliens are returning, and solve the mystery of why the current elevator is malfunctioning.

I had a hard time putting this book down for anything, and that included my normal rambling at people around me. This was a tense, thrilling, and vivid read. So vivid, in fact, that I am certain this would make for a fantastic movie (probably directed by J.J. Abrams). I’m not a reader who has visions of what everything looks like in my head as I read, but this book did that for me. Everything is described with enough detail that a picture was painted, while at the same time never going overboard with those same details. I can’t wait to read The Exodus Towers, the second in the Dire Earth Cycle series, and thankfully that is due to be published a month after this one.

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