Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Living Hell by Catherine Jinks

The young inhabitants of the spaceship Plexus (please italicize) have never set foot on Earth. A few of their parents might be a little homesick once in a while, but without any contact with the planet, their species's home is rarely on their minds. The ship, safe and reliable, harbors them through the vacuum of space as two crews switch between four-year-long bouts in suspended animation. Their mission: to find an inhabitable planet where they can start a new life. But when the ship is forced to pass through an unidentifiable and mysterious energy field, the humans' dependency on their beloved Plexus (please italicize) threatens to doom them all as the ship, quite literally, comes alive.

This is one of the best young adult books I have read in years -- when I started it, I couldn't bring myself to stop until I'd finished it at the end of the day. The pacing is just right and there is just enough tension (and cliffhanger chapter endings) to keep any adventure-loving reader's nose in "Living Hell." Science fiction fans will automatically love this story, especially the vast amount of detail incorporated into the concept of a living spaceship. To anyone not as open to the genre, the "life force" idea may sound preposterous, and there is one other, minor preposterous occurrence near the end of the story. Yet nothing seems very strange in the context of the book, since every aspect of it is strange. The author's descriptive and convincing voice makes almost anything possible in the ship Plexus. Any reader will notice there are also a great number of technical terms and acronyms pertaining to the ship's operating system, but most can be remembered easily enough if the reader has the will. Ultimately, the most unfortunate aspect of this book is that the title is frustratingly vague, and without the cover illustration and the synopsis, I would never have guessed its contents and probably would not have wanted to read it.

Rated 3 for frightening descriptions, especially disturbing and gruesome deaths,young children in peril, and some language.

Reviewer Age:16
Reviewer City, State and Country: San Jacinto, California USA