Damn. This was one hell of a book.
It’s all thanks to Daniela’s review that I read this, so I hate to copy her by starting my review the same way, but this book had possibly the greatest opening I’ve ever seen:
The average life expectancy for a Hell Diver was fifteen jumps. This was Xavier Rodriguez’s ninety-sixth.
From there, it immediately threw me right into the grittiness and sucked me in because guess what the first thing was that happened in this book? A jump gone wrong. I could feel the nerves and anticipation while they were counting and waiting to do the jump. I could feel the terror of skydiving through a lightning storm. Everything was so vivid and made me feel like I was there.
And then when they actually got to the surface? Those were my favorite parts because they were always crazy intense.
But really, everything about this book was good. The world-building, of both the surface and the airship and how everything came to be the way it was, was phenomenal. And the concept of the Hell Divers—the people who jumped down to the surface to scavenge and get things they needed—was so unique, well thought-out, and detailed.
I also loved X. He was actually flawed and thus realistic, but he was still likeable. He risked his life as as Hell Diver, but he didn’t do it JUST for the good of the people; he was kind of addicted to the rush. He was also gruff, somewhat of an alcoholic, and not the best father figure for Tin. But then there were times when he did do selfless, heroic things just because that’s who he was, and it might seem incongruous with his flaws, but it wasn’t. It all just worked with his character. And his positive qualities made for some surprisingly touching moments.
The author also did a good job of showing both Maria’s and Travis’s sides of things when it came to the problems with the lower-deckers on the ship. I agreed with Travis that the way the lower-deckers were forced to live was awful and inhumane. They didn’t even have their own rooms, they had to share one bathroom that smelled so bad they couldn’t even stand it, they hardly had enough food to survive, and most of them were dying of cancer from the radiation they were forced to live near. It was truly terrible and definitely not fair. But I could also kind of see Maria’s side of things. I think that maybe something could’ve been done to improve their conditions, but look what happened when she tried to appease them and help them and give them more freedom— *SPOILER* they smuggled and sold weapons and nearly took down the whole ship. *END SPOILER*
Also worth noting is that this book didn’t have any romance. That’s neither bad nor good, just something to keep in mind depending on what you’re looking for.
So overall, this book was intense and detailed and gritty, and every time I picked it up, I ended up being completely gripped and sucked in, forgetting the world around me, not wanting to put it down!
Anyone looking for a crazy, intense, gritty post-apocalyptic story and gruff, flawed, but still likeable characters.