There's one truth on Australia. You fight or you die. Usually both. Imagine a nightmare from which there is no escape. This is a hell where no one can hide. This is a ship of death, of murderers and cults and gangs. This is Australia.
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.
As soon as I received this book--thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy--I was intrigued. I love the cover, and the blurb sounded even better. So, I was super excited about receiving a YA book that I hadn't heard about but sounded so interesting.
Chan lives inside a ship that's hurtling through space. It's called Australia and is filled with people of all ages. Everyone is trying to survive under the very restrictive conditions. There are many stories and myths on this ship, but the one that is always carried down is about its origin. Hundreds of years ago when planet Earth was dying, the humans sent a bunch of huge ships into space so they could find another place to live.
Australia has been travelling ever since, and the ancestors of those who escaped live inside a multi-level metal monstrosity with no windows and no real indication of where they are. The days are signalled by dimming lights. The oxygen is maintained by the arboretum--where they have trees, grass, fruit and water to keep them going. The top level is always pitch black and the bottom is a dark, endless Pit.
But survival within Australia is tough. There are a number of dangerous gangs, but none are as deadly as the Lows. Not even the creepy and mysterious Pale Women who live in the dark and try to spread their faith are as much of a threat. Survival is a daily struggle, and when Chan's mother dies it becomes even harder. Riadne kept their levels safe and the gangs stayed away, but with her gone there's no telling what will happen next.
Chan now only has Agatha, her mother's friend, but in order to survive she needs to stand on her own. Otherwise she'll be seen as weak and the Lows will destroy her. And so, her mother's end brings about Chan's own story.
But the Lows have a new psycho leader with plans of her own. Now that Chan's mother is dead, the Lows run riot and their savage takeover begins. As much as Chan tries to keep her promise to her dying mother about being selfish and not dying, it becomes increasingly hard to stay true to her mother's last request. Because when the rebellion starts from below, no one's safe and unless Chan starts exerting her own brand of violence, everyone will die.
OMG. This book was amazing! I didn't know what to expect when I started reading, but I didn't expect to be so totally hooked that I didn't want to leave this very brutal world until I reached the end. And then, when I did reach The End, I wanted more. Seriously, that ending is a killer!
Chan is an awesome character who tries so hard to keep her promise, but can't when she realises that what she really wants to do is help others. Funny how her mother spent her adult life being feared while also helping others, but then expects Chan to do the opposite. But she can't ignore her strong instincts, and that leads to a lot of brutality, pain and heartbreak. I loved how she wanted so badly to help when people were being attacked but just couldn't save everyone.
This vicious world is brutal, but realistic. There are many awesome things about this book. The worldbuilding is so good and doesn't take long to understand. The twists and turns totally shock you when they're revealed. The secrets are deep and very dark. The truth is unbelievable. And the reason why the ship is called Australia is SO darn clever.
Seriously, this book is incredible.
Seriously, this book is incredible.
Way Down Dark is an awesome, action-packed adrenaline ride that'll take your breath away. The action doesn't stop, the brutality is constant, and the fight for survival will keep you on the edge of your seat. It will also have you cheering for Chan, Agatha and Jonah as they struggle to live in an enclosed, hostile environment with nowhere to go. There's a bit of everything in this story, but one thing that never stops throughout is just how heart-stopping it is. As the layers are slowly revealed, you just can't help but realise how brilliant this book really is.
I LOVED this book SO MUCH. It's definitely one of those stories that'll stay with me for years!
Can't wait to find out what happens next.
Way Down Dark, July 2015, ISBN 9781444796322, Hodder & Stoughton