Top critical review
Not sure what all the fuss is about?
16 November 2016
I’ve heard a great deal about Mr Smith’s Extinction books. I’ve been meaning to read them for some time, but haven’t got around to it. ‘Hell Divers’ is the first in a new series of books that follows the fortunes of the last remaining humans as they fly above a destroyed Earth in a huge craft called ‘ The Hive’. The problem is that the ship needs fuel cells to keep it afloat and the only place to get the cells is on the ground, which is highly radioactive and crawling with monsters called Sirens. Enter the Hell Divers – a fearless bunch of men and women who dive to the surface in search of these cells to keep the ship in the air.
The concept of this series is pretty great, sadly, I had a bit of a hard time with this book. First of all, there is a class system aboard the ship where the people on the lower decks suffer from radiation poisoning and disfigurement and nobody seems to care about them! So I ask myself ” Do I really want the people aboard The Hive to survive?” and the answer is “no”. The men, women and children on the lower decks are doomed anyway and the people above are selfish, arrogant and genuinely unlikable, so I can live with them not making it in this radioactive wasteland.
The main character is Xavier (X for short, obviously, sounds much more macho), a stereotypically heroic sort that has every cheesy, Hollywood one-liner in the book down pat. I can well imagine Chris or Liam Hemsworth playing him in the movie. Now, I have no problem at all with these sorts of characters but the dialogue just made me cringe and I often knew exactly what he was going to say before he had even said it. Elsewhere we have his sort of adopted son, Tin, who is rather annoying, moody and just generally bugged me. Then we have the Sirens; a kind of Aliens meets Pitch Black monster, which is very cool, only they are very easy to kill. One shot to any part of the body often does the trick and they seem to rely on sheer numbers to overpower the Hell Divers. Captain Ash (the captain aboard The Hive) is a strong female lead and this is something that the author does get right. I think this is a great move in having a strong female character in a story that is a little overly macho.
‘Hell Divers’ isn’t badly written and I can definitely see why people are enjoying it, it is big dumb fun, it’s just with all the great reviews I was expecting so much more. It has the feel that it is desperate to become a movie, a Hollywood blockbuster, and so it relies on terrible dialogue, cheesy characters and I felt it had a stuttering book 1 feel to it too. If you get a kick out of movies like Independence Day: Resurgence and the like then you will enjoy this I have no doubt. For me, ‘Hell Divers’ has too many inconsistencies and is at times very silly, like with the way the divers get back up to The Hive! I don’t mind a cheesy movie because often the running time is around 90 minutes but ‘Hell Divers’ took away nearly six hours of my life. This is book 1 in a series and I have to be honest in saying I won’t return for book 2. A shame because I had such high hopes.