03 August, 2010

Book Review: Living Hell





Title: Living Hell
Author: Catherine Jinks
Publisher: Harcourt
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 256
Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Cover Rating: 3.5 out of 5. I don't really like the pink theme. I would have preferred it blue or green against black, but not pink. Although it does loosely connect to the plot and the tentacles are perfect.

Inside flap:

The smell was the first thing we noticed. It was a terrible smell that made us all cough: a smell of burning meat, with another stench overlaying it. Then we saw Firminus standing by the door.
   He pointed.
   "Something is trying to get it," he rasped.
What happens when a single moment changes everything? For seventeen-year-old Cheney, life on Earth exists only in history books. The life he and over one thousand other people know is aboard the Plexus spacecraft: self-contained, systematic, and serene. But that was before the radiation wave.
   Now Plexus has suddenly turned on them, becoming a terrifying and unrecognizable force. As the crew dwindles under the attack, Cheney and his friends need to find a way to fight back before the ship that's nurtured them for so long becomes responsible for their destruction.

My expectations: medium. I though the plot would be good, based on other books I've read by her, and I thought that the characters would be so-so; smart, but not really great. I expected the ending to be odd.

Well, the plot was good, and the characters were better than I expected. :) The ending was excellent.

About the book: The Plexus is a self-sufficient ship that runs on microorganisms and other living systems. I found that idea intriguing, even though I've seen it before. I loved the ship itself, and I enjoyed the mental image that Jinks created of the Plexus. Very hi-tech.

The characters I liked. I thought that the differences might have been accented more, but they were really quite good. Cheney has his faults, but he's smart and able to take charge when the pressures are great. Merritt was interesting, Dygall, sarcastic and sort of pessimistic was good, and Cheney's parents were fine. Sloan was one of those people who doesn't particularly care about people who he thinks are "insignificant" and it also added.

Plot-wise, it's also a really good book. The descriptions were vivid, if nothing else, and while it was sort of your typical get-out-and-face-the-bad-things it was well-written. The ideas--OTVs, (onboard transport vehicles) CAIP (core artificial intelligence program) and RALs (remote access laundry units; these sort of cracked me up despite everything)--I enjoyed, especially the technology. I'm all for neat technology. The ending is fantastic. I love the way it ends.

Other: the gore is a little graphic. People start getting hurt . . . and the descriptions of the incidents are sometimes a little disturbing. Graphic. Vivid. And a little repetitive after more than a few times.


I wish I knew a little more about why these people had even left Earth in the first place. There really wasn't much about it, and it ended like a standalone book so I don't think there's going to be a sequel to explain.

I noticed that with Evil Genius and Genius Squad (two other books by her that I've read) that the endings/plot are a little different from what I'd usually expect. I'm wondering if this is a case of Australian culture, or if it's just a different perspective. It's the same with authors who live in Europe. It's not that much of a difference, but things might have been done differently if it was, say, written by an American author. For example: The Princess Plot, The Ink-Trilogy, and Shadowmancer didn't quite come out the way I suspected they would. (European authors for those.) Have you ever come across surprising endings that are from books written from authors in different countries?

Right. Back to the review.

Do I recommend this book? Yes! Despite all of the "other" stuff, the plot was good, the ideas were original, the setting was great, (it's a ship! Come on) and the characters were believable. And there's actual science in there.

-----The Golden Eagle

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