Customer Reviews


35 Reviews
5 star:
 (15)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced, Thrilling and with a sense of humour.
"The builders came to Earth and constructed an elevator from Darwin, Australia into space. No one knows why, or if they will return"

Following the arrival of the cable, humankind has built space stations at various altitudes along the space cable. Living in the space stations are scientist, agriculturalists and other, privileged people. Several years later a...
Published 12 months ago by Marleen

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great start but lost momentum
Darwin Elevator had everything at the start. A maverick crew of a scavenger aircraft, on a mission in a zombie infested Earth to recover secret knowledge from an abandoned research station. A criminal underworld in Darwin, the only city left on Earth which trades in black market goods. A space elevator of mysterious alien origin that stretches to rotating stations...
Published 7 months ago by Robert


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced, Thrilling and with a sense of humour., 27 July 2013
By 
Marleen (Cavan, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle 1) (Paperback)
"The builders came to Earth and constructed an elevator from Darwin, Australia into space. No one knows why, or if they will return"

Following the arrival of the cable, humankind has built space stations at various altitudes along the space cable. Living in the space stations are scientist, agriculturalists and other, privileged people. Several years later a plague envelopes the planet turning humans into feral animals. The only ones protected are the rare "immunes" and the people who live within a 9 mile radius of the space elevator which exudes an Aura of protection. Of course those living in the space stations are also protected, due to their isolation from earth.

Skyler Luiken is one of a group of scavengers who roam the planet in mothballed ex air force aircraft, searching for anything useful which can be sold to the elites who live in orbit. What's unusual about Luiken's team is that they are all "immunes" meaning that they don't have to use cumbersome haz-mat suits while out plying their trade.

The political balance of Darwin sits on a knife edge with Neil Platz in control of the orbital habitats and Russell Blackfield controlling the ground station of Nightcliff, the anchor point for the space elevator. The orbitals control food production, owned by Platz, who has his own dark secrets, and the ground-station controls the supply of Air and Water to the orbitals.

This is the setting for this debut novel from Hough. First thoughts are that I liked this first book in the "Dire Earth Cycle". There have been a plethora of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels released in recent years and it is reassuring to finally find one that doesn't make me want to "slash my wrists" after reading it. The main characters are well developed and, unusually for such a novel, actually have a sense of humour, something severely lacking in a lot of other books of this particular genre such as Hugh Howeys "Wool" series. Skyler Luiken is a reluctant hero, who more or less by accident finds himself drawn into the political battle for the ultimate control of mankind's destiny. He has to pit his wits against Blackfield who is a "baddie" in the true classical sense of the word.

And still, the power struggle may only be the start of humankind's problems; for the builders are returning...

The gulf in the quality of life between the "Orbitals" and the Darwinians is huge. The orbitals live in relative luxury, completely removed from the daily and constant struggle for survival which is the lot of most of the earthbound population, all of whom are dreaming of one day ascending to space to a life without fear of starvation or premature death.

This was a fast-paced and thrilling read. And while it is clear that there is more story left to tell I am grateful that the author didn't leave me stranded on one of those heart-stopping cliff-hangers that seem to be all the rage these days.

I was very pleasantly surprised with this first offering from Hough, who managed to instil a sense of hope and optimism, and not a little humour into a subject which too often is portrayed in a truly grim manner, and I look forward to the next two instalments in the series, "The Exodus Towers" and "The Plague Forge".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Sci Fi Debut, 20 July 2013
By 
This review is from: The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle 1) (Paperback)
The arrival of mysterious technology has managed, in a short period of time, to move humanity forward and then stop it almost dead in its tracks. Briefly, the Earth experienced a golden age and then suddenly a disease has put pay to all that. Society has effectively split, becoming two distinct groups - the haves and the have-nots. Those that live off planet in a series of space stations that connect via the elevator to Earth. Meanwhile, those that can't attempt to survive in the only other place left, at the base of the machine in Darwin.

In Darwin, the cast of characters are an eclectic bunch. The lead, Skyler Luiken has a roguish charm that will no doubt be a hit, you can't really go far wrong with an amalgam of Solo and Reynolds. His crew, particularly the enforcer Samantha, are also a highlight. Even the local smuggler's fence/fixer, Prumble, has some moments to shine.

The economics of Darwin play an important part in proceedings. At the base of the elevator is a fortress know as Nightcliff. Here, an official called Russell Blackfield has created his own little fiefdom. He knows that those humans who now live off planet require a constant flow of traffic up and down the lift's route. He uses this to his advantage, scheming and manipulating every situation he can in order to gain more and more control. Ultimately he dreams of being in charge of everything and you can sense it is only a matter of time before he is going to make his move.

The most intriguing of all the characters however is Neil Platz. His company were the first to exploit the alien technology when it first arrived and he is directly responsible for humanities move closer towards the stars. He has moved his scientific exploration into orbit and he has become obsessed with discovering as much as he can about the enigmatic Builders. The nature of his obsessions are key to events as the plot unfolds. He's an interesting mix, imagine meeting someone who is all child-like wonder one moment and then ruthless business man the next.

While reading about the disparity between the lifestyles of those living in Darwin and those living in orbit, I was taking my visual cues from the trailer for Neil Blomkamp's forthcoming movie Elysium. In his novel, Hough has captured that same sense of inequality. Those in Darwin don't have any choice; the risk of being exposed to the contamination is too great. They have to live as close to the elevator as they can, the only safe zone, where the disease is held in check. Meanwhile, high above, the Orbitals live a more comfortable existence. At its core, the writing rather cleverly explores the divisions that have arisen in what's left of the Earth's dwindling population. Rather than banding together in order to survive, strong egos cause clashes between the various factions vying for power.

The story also excels when the author turns his descriptive powers towards action. For reasons that I'm not going to explain, spoilers and whatnot, our lead and his crew quickly find themselves in a race against time. These chapters whip by at breakneck speed and it's easy to get caught up in the relentless pace. Doesn't matter if it's on the ground, in the air, or in outer space, Hough knows how to deliver first rate thrills and spills.

The chapters that feature the sub-humans have a suitably creepy vibe. The "subs" come across as almost a kind of primal zombie. I rather like that there are moments where The Darwin Elevator moves from science fiction and nearly becomes post-apocalyptic horror. It's a sure sign of Hough's skill as a writer that he is able effortlessly traverse that fine line that exists between these two respective genres.

There were only a couple of things that I think didn't work for me. There were some instances where I felt the plot seemed to fall into a bit of a holding pattern. More than once characters danced around a reveal that would move things forward, that came across a little unnecessary. My other minor quibble is what's missing from The Darwin Elevator. They are eluded to throughout, but there wasn't an appearance by the mysterious alien Builders. In fairness, I do suspect that it won't be too long before they do finally show themselves.

Overall though, this is a rock-solid debut that showcases some fine writing and, more importantly perhaps, bucket loads of potential. As far as the story goes I can only hope that book two features more of the same. More sub-human mayhem, more zero-gravity warfare and *fingers crossed* much more from those damn elusive Builders. Based on what I've read so far, I think I'd be keen to read more of this author's work.

The Darwin Elevator is published by Titan Books and is available on 26th July. The sequel, The Exodus Towers, arrives at the end of August and the final book in the trilogy, The Plague Forge, at the end of September. If you like your science fiction intelligent but action packed, with a blistering pace, this could well be the series for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great start but lost momentum, 26 Nov 2013
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Darwin Elevator had everything at the start. A maverick crew of a scavenger aircraft, on a mission in a zombie infested Earth to recover secret knowledge from an abandoned research station. A criminal underworld in Darwin, the only city left on Earth which trades in black market goods. A space elevator of mysterious alien origin that stretches to rotating stations. However about a third of the way in it started to flag. The space elevator had very limited cargo capacity and frankly one wondered why it was not being used 24/7. It was in the control of a ground based militia. Why? It's the most valuable thing the Human Race has.

The physics started to be bothersome. If the elevator stretched beyond geostationary orbit, then only the station at geo-sync will match the orbit speed of the elevator string. Anything above and below will move and impact the string. There was no mention of them being attached because the cargo pods had to dock and could even be cast loose.

After the action moved to orbit I ceased caring and left the last quarter of the book unread.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I have found a new author!, 26 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have not read any Jason M. Hough books and was most pleasantly surprised when I downloaded The Darwin Elevator to my Kindle. Although rather confusing at first, because of the different locations for each part of the story, I was interested enough to persevere and found the story unfolded to an exciting finish. I will now read the other Dire Earth Cycle books and look forward to the new one out in the Autumn. I like the main characters and their descriptions and the story did not flag when the twists and turns took in all the different locations which I rapidly got used to.. Certainly nice to find a new (to me) author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful book in so many ways, 25 Nov 2013
By 
The Mekon (Sunny London, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle 1) (Paperback)
I read a lot of SF. Two things, to me, can make it good:

1. Consistent, coherent and convincing science
2. Decent writing skills

Now, I'm pretty tolerant of middling writing skills if the concepts are interesting and attention grabbing. Sadly The Darwin Elevator meets neither criteria. At all. The characters are two dimensional, the prose clunky, the dialogue cringe-worthy. And the science: oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The main howlers:

A. A space elevator away from the equator. Why would aliens, however advanced, do that? It's just dumb for so many reasons.
B. All the habitats on the tower are at zero G; lots of floating and bouncing off walls. Presumably because of, you know: SPACE!! The only weightless point on the whole structure would be at geosynchronous orbit. The lower habitats would almost be at earth normal. And remember that these are human-built structures and so are not fitted with an alien antigravity mcguffin.
C. A counter-weight at geosynchronous orbit. Tsk, tsk, tsk. That has to be waaay above that orbit so the centrifugal force holds up all the stuff below geosynch. (see point b for why).

Science mistakes happen, but these are eye-wateringly bad for a novel entirely written around a space elevator! Five minutes on wikipedia before starting would have fixed them all, as would asking a high-school student to read the novel prior to sending to a [scientifically illiterate] publisher.

Needless to say, the next books in the series are not on my wish list.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Not actually "science" fiction., 22 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One particular bit of completely broke science, spoils a book that has some otherwise ok bits. word word word word word word
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Story OK but 'nul points' for the publisher, 17 May 2014
Leaving aside the poor science, which doesn’t overly bother me (it’s a story!), this is a competently told tale of the near future, with a fascinating premise – what happens when aliens turn up and build a space elevator? Who are they? Why did they do it? Unfortunately (for my taste, anyway), it turns out to be more of a post-apocalyptic running, jumping and shooting adventure, rather than a First Contact “what if...?”. But that’s fine – just not my preference. Three stars for the story and writing.

But here’s my gripe (slight plot-spoiler) – only inside the book do the publishers say this is just the first of a series. The author sets out so many enticing possibilities, so many interesting questions... But four hundred pages in and so many big questions remain unanswered that you just know they’re not all going to be wrapped up in the last seventy-five pages. OK, it’ll teach me not to buy something on the basis of the cover but it’s intensely irritating to invest time and effort in reading nearly five hundred pages and get no answers. “Pay us more money to find out what happens next!” I don’t think so. Zero stars for Titan Books. (Incidentally, I see Amazon now labels it “Dire Earth Cycle 1” – brownie points to them, at least.)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, 21 Mar 2014
By 
Chris L (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Enjoyed the trilogy - not sure if there will be more - the story certainly allowed it to be developed further. Some of the characters were predictable, but overall it was enjoyable
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down !, 12 Mar 2014
By 
Mr BTM (Leics, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is No 1 of a trilogy. Having read 2/3rds of Darwin Elevator I bought the other 2 without hesitation and read all 3 one after the other. Fantastic SciFi, I will certainly be looking for more from Mr Hough.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars 5* for the book, 3* for the trilogy, 12 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The book itself is worthy of 5*, it's your standard zombie apocalypse fare, with the shotgun armed protagonists eking a living by scavenging the remains of civilization and headshotting any feral plague infected zombies they meet along the way.
But it is very well executed and the addition of details like parajumping into zombie infested locations via sub-orbital military dropships give it a nice futuristic feel. The story is fleshed out with a potential extra-terrestrial origin for the zombie plague and a mysterious alien built space elevator that has an unknown but pivotal role in the whole affair.

Unfortunately this isn't a stand alone book. It's part of a trilogy - and the trilogy ends itself on a note which could lead to future novels. Unfortunately the quality of the books drop as the story progresses and by the end the whole narrative just feels tired and limps to an unsatisfying conclusion.

It almost feels like the author has spun two books worth of plot out into three (quite long) books and in the meantime hasn't paid enough attention to how he was going to end the whole thing. Despite the fact the trilogy is (arguably) too long the ending feels rushed and many plot points are left hanging and unexplained. It reminds me a bit of the TV series Lost - the author gives us lots of cool scenes which pose more and more questions about the whole ET/Zombie mystery but then in the end all the questions are dismissed/ignored and no satisfying answers are given.

Perhaps these are to come in a future trilogy but by now I no longer trust the author to deliver them and am unwilling to invest the time to find out. For me a drip feed of answers to at least some of the questions and an indication that the book is more than a load of cool scenes strung together - that there is a satisfying overarching story that is going to link it all together - is needed.

So 5* for the book itself and the concept but I couldn't really recommend anyone who wasn't a massive space zombie fan taking on the trilogy as a whole - so 3* for the trilogy, 4* overall.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle 1)
The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle 1) by Jason M. Hough (Paperback - 26 July 2013)
5.77
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews