The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle #1)
Jason M. Hough
Published: July 30, 2013 (Del Rey)
Purchase at: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: Publisher provided copy in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed by: Krista
Rating (out of 5): 2 stars
I picked up The Darwin Elevator on the strength of Kevin Hearne’s (author of the Iron Druid Chronicles) recommendation alone. As it is, I may have made the naive assumption that since Hearne was recommending the series it would have the humor and wit found in his series. Also I do enjoy the occasional foray into science fiction with Ann Aguirre, Gini Koch, Linnea Sinclair and Sara Creasy (who also recommended the series). So it should have been a foregone conclusion that I would love The Dire Earth Cycle series. Instead I was left wondering if it was my fault or the book’s that I didn’t enjoy this one.
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.
Hough’s world is divided into three basic sections, all the citizens who live in habitats attached to the space elevator, those who live inside the aura section surrounding the elevator, and the zombie like creatures who live outside the aura. The divisive conflict among the three is completely obvious and is a given, but it still gets detailed and laid out throughout the first quarter of the book. Also perspectives are divided among several characters so the reader is able to fully understand the multiple sides of the conflicts. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to care about any of them, to the point where I found each two-dimensional and predictable.
The strength of the book lies in its action sequences ranging from zombie infestations to plummeting from the space elevator in a broken ship to warfare in multiple locations. Even then I didn’t feel any sense of urgency, but that may have been because I didn’t really invest in any of the characters. There are so many perspectives, story threads and conflicts occurring that the individual moments lacked the necessary potency to draw me deeper. I also found some of the sequences involving one of the main villain’s actions toward women directed to a very specific male chauvinistic mentality.
As this is the first in three back-to-back releases this book may be a basis from which the story can build, but at this point I do not see myself continuing the series.
Sexual content: References to sex