The Darwin Elevator, by Jason M. Hough. The crave-worthy Sci-Fi fix you’ve been waiting for.

Okay. I don’t write book reviews. I’ve tried, but every time I do it ends up sound/reading like a book report, and I have deep-seated memories about turning in late assignments in Mr. Howling’s Middle School English class.

Also, I’m more of a book talker-abouter than a book writer-abouter. I don’t know what it is, but if you ask me what I’ve enjoyed lately or ask for a recommendation I get all giddy and can’t stop talking. I LOVE discussing books, especially with friends that have already READ the book.  There’s nothing better than digging below the surface with another likeminded reader and over-analyzing a writer’s choice to dress a character in blue when said character is obviously the yellow representation in the novel.  I mean come on!

What? You guys don’t assign colors to characters. Oh man, I feel so alone.

So, why break the tradition now? Why spend my time gobbling up your time to try to convince you that Jason Hough’s time was well spent telling you a story about massive space elevator set in a different time? Because, someday I want to be able to brag about telling you that I knew Jason Hough before he was the next Sci-Fi buzz word, because believe me, he will be.

Alright. First a confession or four.

  • I like big books (and I cannot lie).
  • I am a Science Fiction junkie and I adore Firefly, Burn Notice, Veronica Mars (especially season 2), and a little anime classic called Cowboy Bebop.
  • My favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy fiction are cleverly masked mystery novels with extremely high stakes and well planed technology. Sorry, I checked out of Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER because his description of a kid turning an Xbox into a global security hacking device was just silly. An xbox – really? An xbox? Those were about as advanced as a microwave back then. That’s the best ya got? Sorry – I digress.
  • I adore a book with a map. A book with 2 maps nearly sends me into a nerd-sugar-coma.
  • I’m suffering from major series fatigue. In the past I’ve devoured series books, but I’m kind of tapped out and tired of feeling like I don’t have closure from an author simply because there’s an opportunity to spin off a 2nd, 3rd, 8th offering.

That being said, it was very kind of Jason Hough to write THE DARWIN ELEVATOR just for me. It’s beefy, which I like in a Sci-Fi book. I know that sounds like a silly thing to review, but I’m of the opinion that sci-fi/mystery needs time to build, and Jason handles this tease like a pro. His pace is relentless, a never-ending thrill ride through a desperate world set in the 23rd century, where his main character, Skyler Luiken, captains a ship of genetically unique misfits as they travel outside the safe zone to collect the spoils of a society ravaged by a world ending plague. These missions are handled with the ball-busting grace of a NASCAR street race in billion dollar space-jets combined with the danger of a drug-smuggler’s run.

The setting for THE DARWIN ELEVATOR is a concept artist playground. Set nearly 400 years in the future, on the only “clean” place left on earth, Darwin, Australia, a massive elevator has been stabbed into the earth by a highly evolved alien race. This safe zone is the citizen’s link to any foreseeable future and the brightest, and sometimes most menacing minds have conglomerated there. Some to research what’s left and what the future might hold, some to profit like cut-throat pirates.

The cast and crew of Jason’s book, however, are what really kept me rolling. There is more wit in this book than at a Joss Whedon Fanboy Convetion. I was constantly surprised by the dialog, it felt immediate and natural and perfectly in tune with the world Jason created. The characters were deadly serious but never out of reach and overly heroic. Man, that sounds weird, because Skyler Luikenis a freaking hero, but he also seemed like the kind of guy you’d want to hang out at Comicon with. Crap, I hope they still host Comicon in 2300 on the DARWIN ELEVATOR.

THE DARWIN ELEVATOR kept me guessing. It’s set up like a mystery, which I appreciate. It’s always tough when reading Sci-Fi because the writer has soooo much to build and express to the user, but Jason masterfully wove his world building into the book in a way that made me beg for the answers. His technology was well thought out and it felt immaculate. No Xboxes powering this world.

Okay – now the best part. THE DARWIN ELEVATOR doesn’t just have one map. Yeah, that’s right, it has TWO MAPS. One vertical and one horizontal. I know. I KNOW!

And my biggest surprise of all is that I wanted more. I know I mentioned I’m in series fatigue, but the ending of this book was handled with precision. Great closure, but a lingering worry that more needed be done. Not needed in a way that felt carried on or drug out (dragged out? I don’t know) , but in a way that made me feel confident that I was in good hands as a reader.

Get this book as soon as you can. Preorder it today so you don’t forget (LINK). Don’t futz around and wait for the movie(which is not an announcement, just a prediction). Jason is going places and THE DARWIN ELEVATOR is sweetened-condensed proof.