I’m proud to say I’ve been reading Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s work since before he was picked up by a publisher. His tales are not only inventive, they are fast-paced and just downright fun. Fresh off the heels of the ORBS series and the EXTINCTION CYCLE, Smith offers us a new vision of the post-apocalypse with HELL DIVERS. But this time, the world was not decimated by aliens or a virus…this time, we destroyed it ourselves.
If you are not familiar with HELL DIVERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Blackstone Publishing:
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 for 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 Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago.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 diving 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 that’s far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past — something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.
I have to confess: HELL DIVERS is my favorite series Smith has written thus far. It has just as much tension and action as the priors, however this one has a bleakness the other two did not contain. Perhaps because this book starts off AFTER the apocalypse, whereas the others start before.
HELL DIVERS is written well, and the whole book flows at a nice pace. The prose is crisp, and the dialogue is believable, as are the people that speak it. The overall bleary tone of the story is set very early on, and this dark atmosphere carries throughout the book.
In regard to characters, they are diverse and fleshed out well. Smith writes them in a way that lets the reader get to know them intimately. We get an immersive feel for what they are experiencing, from the at-that-moment action to their longings to know what life was like before the world was destroyed. This allows us to mesh with them, and we therefore care about what happens to them.
The story is original and well thought out. I really like the concept of a select group of individuals who have to skydive to the burned out surface for supplies. I just hope my assumptions about the ending are misplaced…I can’t remember the last time I ever wanted to be wrong. As a result, I am very intrigued to see where books two and three take the story.
HELL DIVERS is another feather in Smith’s cap, and it’s a big win for me as well. If you’re any kind of fan of science fiction or post-apocalyptic fiction, then this is a book you have to check out. Smith once again raises the bar for himself, and I’m eager to see what he does next. HELL DIVERS will hit store shelves next week, so make a note.