Guest Review by Kevin Hearne
Writing a good science fiction novel these days is tricky. I have found that some authors get the science right at the expense of getting the characters right and I can’t finish, or else the opposite happens—the characters are spiffy but the science is so silly and simplistic that I can’t suspend my disbelief.
So it’s the rare science fiction book that will grab me like The Darwin Elevator did. Jason Hough is definitely the new guy to try—there’s really not much of a risk here. I loved this book and I think you will too.
With a worldwide plague and a mysterious alien space elevator to worry about, you’d think humanity would lay off each other for a while, but there is plenty of scheming and backstabbing going on between a desperate population in Darwin, Australia, and a privileged class living in orbit. The story follows Skyler Luiken and his crew on the ground (all of whom are immune to the plague), but it also follows the scientist Dr. Tania Sharma, who’s in orbit trying to figure out the true purpose of the alien elevator. Though both Skyler and Tania deal with their own insecurities as leaders and don’t particularly wish to be heroes, they fight and stumble their way through multiple crises because the cost of failure would be catastrophic.
The tension and the action keep escalating and combine to make The Darwin Elevator the best sci-fi I’ve read in many years.
“[Jason M.] Hough’s first novel combines the rapid-fire action and memorable characters associated with Joss Whedon’s short-lived Firefly TV series with the accessibility and scientific acumen of [James S. A.] Corey’s ‘Expanse’ series.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“The best part about alien stories is their mystery, and Jason Hough understands that like no other. Full of compelling characters and thick with tension, The Darwin Elevator delivers both despair and hope along with a gigantic dose of wonder. It’s a brilliant debut, and Hough can take my money whenever he writes anything from now on.”—Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles
“Newcomer Hough displays a talent for imaginative plotting and realistic dialogue, and the brisk pacing and cliffhanger ending will keep readers enthralled and eagerly awaiting the next installment.”—Publishers Weekly
“Jason M. Hough does a great job with this huge story. The world of Darwin and the Elevator is deliciously complex and satisfying. Skyler, Tania, and all the other characters are delightfully drawn and fun to spend time with. . . . The story unfolds with just the right balance of high adventure, espionage, humor, and emotional truth. . . . As soon as you finish, you’ll want more.”—Analog
“A debut novel unlike any other . . . This is something special. Something iconic. The Darwin Elevator is full of majesty and wonder, mystery and mayhem, colorful characters and insidious schemes.”—SF Signal
“Fun, action-packed and entertaining . . . a sure contender for science fiction debut of the year!”—Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist
“Claustrophobic, intense, and satisfying . . . I couldn’t put this book down. The Darwin Elevator depicts a terrifying world, suspends it from a delicate thread, and forces you to read with held breath as you anticipate the inevitable fall.”—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
“Hough writes with irresistible energy and gritty realism. His puts his characters through hell, blending a convincing plot with heart-stopping action and moments of raw terror as the world goes crazy in the shadow of unfathomable alien intentions.”—Sara Creasy, author of the Philip K. Dick Award–nominated Song of Scarabaeus
“A thrilling story right from the first page . . . This book plugs straight into the fight-or-flight part of your brain.”—Ted Kosmatka, author of The Games
“If you enjoy high adventure with a kick-ass crew, I suggest you take Hough’s Darwin Elevator for a ride.”—Warren Hammond, author of KOP Killer