Set on a spaceship called Australia, hundreds of years after the original inhabitants were forced to escape a doomed earth, seventeen-year-old Chan and the crew's other descendants are stuck on-board the vessel. Over the years dangerous gangs have formed and things have only gong from bad to worse with the passage of time.
The ship is divided into different zones dominated by different groups: the Bells, the Pale Women, the Free People, and the Lows; the Bells were originally genetically engineered soldiers; the Pale Women live on top floor of the ship in complete darkness and are extremely religious; the Lows control over a half of Australia and are by far the most dangerous and violent group; and the Free People are free for now, but this is threatened by the Lows whose sphere of control is growing. When Chan is forced to help her mother who is a hero to the Free section of the ship, she inevitably lands on the radar of the Lows. As life gets worse on Australia, Chan must test her morals and discover how dark life on Australia really is.
Beginning with a brutal murder, Smythe's tone is dark and violent throughout. While George Orwell included a romance in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Smythe resists the temptation to water down the nightmare future he creates onboard Australia. Throughout the 288 pages there is an unshakable sense that it is futile for the characters to try and escape from the circumstances they were born into. While the action scenes may go on a bit too long for some readers, they are essential for creating this feeling of futility that many young readers will identify with. And with so much to learn about the dark future universe Smythe creates, readers will want to keep reading even if they get bored of the gore.... there is also a surprising twist which will leave readers eager to get to the end of the book.
WAY DOWN DARK: AUSTRALIA BOOK ONE / AUTHOR: JAMES SMYTHE / PUBLISHER: HODDER & STOUGHTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW