Saturday, April 16, 2011

Living Hell by Catherine Jinks

Published: May 2007
Publisher: Harcourt
Pages: 256
Copy: From library
Summary: Goodreads

What happens when a single moment changes everything? For seventeen-year-old Cheney, life on earth exists only in history books. He and more than one thousand other people have known life only aboard the Plexus spacecraft: self-contained, systematic, and serene. But that was before the radiation wave.

Now Plexus has suddenly turned on them, becoming a terrifying and unrecognizable force. As the crew dwindles under attack, Cheney and his friends need to fight back before the ship that’s nurtured them for so long becomes responsible for their destruction.

OK, 'Living Hell' was weird! But, not weird in a bad way, just unusual, if you know what I mean?  It's SF, not fantasy and the action takes place aboard a space ship in an unidentified future time.  The world building, or 'ship building' in this case, was well done and as the story continues and things start to change, the ship becomes even stranger and the action ratchets up several notches.

The main protagonist is Cheney, a 17 year old student on board the ship Plexus - only he's not really 17, because the crews rotate in cryo-sleep every four years, but they don't seem to age while sleeping!.  Anyway, his development as a character was very well done and believable - considering the whole story takes place over the course of only 1 or 2 days.  Several other characters with pivotal roles - one of them being an adult, which is unusual in YA fiction these days, but lots of surprises.

The descriptions as the ship changes are extremely vivid and  surpremely gruesome, so if you are at all squeamish, you might want to give this one a miss, but the story, though short, was very engrossing and enjoyable.  I missed it when it originally came out in 2007, but I'm glad I read it now.  I'm looking forward to reading some other books by Ms Jinks.

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