I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on July 19th 2016
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Book Depository
More than two centuries after World War III poisoned the planet, the final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search of a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago. The only thing keeping the two surviving lifeboats in the sky are Hell Divers—men and women who risk their lives by skydiving to the surface to scavenge for parts the ships desperately need.
When one of the remaining airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there’s something down there far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past—something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.
Imagine that humanity finally started World War 3 and the majority of the Earth fell into nuclear ruin. Now imagine a world where the last vestiges of humanity are living in air ships that float around the world above the nuclear ravaged world below for generations until only two ships remain. This is essentially the plot of Hell Divers from the point of view of X, a member of the illustrious team of men and women who risk their lives venturing into Earth’s nuclear wasteland to retrieve items that the air ships require to stay afloat.
Xavier Rodriguez, the most senior Hell Diver with the most dives survived, has seen almost everything the world could throw at a Hell Diver team, but nothing has prepared him for his most recent jump. It isn’t just the nuclear radiation that could kill them all, but the creatures that X christens Sirens. Sirens are bloodthirsty creatures that have evolved to be impervious to the high levels of radiation that renders Earth uninhabitable. Humanity is not prepared to face creatures made of teeth and speed that particularly seem to enjoy human flesh, but when the Hive is gravely damaged in a storm when attempting to aid the ill-fated sister ship Ares, the Hell Divers have no choice but to visit the most dangerous city on Earth, Hades. Inevitably, it seems, Hades is also monster central. X and his team must rely on Ares Hell Diver Weaver navigated the long forgotten streets of Hades, but can they survive long enough to locate the precious supplies their family and friends above so desperately need?
Meanwhile, in the air, a rebellion breaks out among the lower deckers that threatens to ground the Hive for good. The Hive is losing altitude, a social unrest explodes into violence and the Captain struggles to keep the ship from entering a dangerous electrical storm that imperils everyone aboard. Hell Divers is an action packed ride that delivers a gritty and exciting tale about human survival and desperation.
Hell Divers is an adrenaline rush with plenty of bullets, life threatening situations and exceptional world building to make a story that is easily immersive. Plus, the Sirens are seriously creepy.
When I first read the synopsis of Hell Divers my reaction was “meh”. The story sounded terribly boring and it had hints of steampunk in the mix (I don’t hate steampunk, but it’s not really a preferred genre either). I’m incredibly glad that I decided to request Hell Divers on NetGalley since the synopsis definitely did not do this novel justice. This is a novel that fits the military driven horror mold more so than steampunk dsytopian fantasy that the synopsis initially lead me to believe. Smith delivers plenty of suspense and human interest to develop a plot that is exciting, but also has an undercurrent of social commentary. I mean, lower deckers vs upper deckers, the fall of civilization due to nuclear winter, the importance of history and the lack of knowledge about the “world before”? Whether or not Smith meant it, I definitely loved the various aspects of this novel that could have been discerned as slightly more intellectual in nature.
There were a few aspects of Hell Divers that bothered me: The ending was a giant let down for me. Sorry. Also Tin’s acceptance of X was too easy and required a bit more struggle for it to be believable. Finally, the love interest was a character that I repeatedly prayed to the literary gods would die a horrible death because of her history with the main character, but thankfully the romance department is tertiary to the actual plot.
I had a positive experience and found Smith’s writing both engrossing and entertaining. I enjoyed the unique take on the usual “end-of-the-world” trope and the use of a multiple story line approach to further develop a world that will only become more interesting as the series continues.
I suggest reading Hell Divers because it’s an extremely exceptional change from the usual post-apocalyptic novels. The synopsis does NOT do it justice!
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy gritty military SF novels, science fiction, post-apocalyptic novels and strong but flawed male leads. I would definitely call this a dark horror novel because of the Siren creatures that stalk the Hell Divers through Hades. I would not suggest this novel to romance fans, staunch chicklit readers or people easily disturbed by language or adult themes since these aspects are part of the fantastic package that is Hell Divers.