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Living Hell by Catherine Jinks

Living Hell

by Catherine Jinks

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I received this as a PDF from netgalley. It started out really interesting, but then got dull, dull, dull.The main character is a.. I think he's a tween, who was born on a generational ship that's trying to find a planet to colonize. So at first we learn about his life on this ship. One interesting bit is that there's two crews and they're each awake for alternating 4 year spans. So the children who're born in each shift have 4 year gaps between them. That makes for some interesting dynamics.I found the names difficult to handle until I realized the naming scheme they were probably following. Not that that made it all that much easier. I had trouble seeing a particular name as male or female, old or young. Even the parents are referred to by their name. It makes it just that bit more difficult to keep track of the characters.Either because it was an uncorrected galley or because of the PDF-ification of it, the formatting left much to be desired. It lost a lot of the paragraph breaks, especially around dialog. That made it especially difficult in places to figure out who was talking. Grr. But the reason I give it 2 stars is because as soon as we get to the actual plot of the book, it was blah. The ship passes through some weird energy thingee, like you might find on Star Trek, and then it starts to become alive. And then it starts attacking the humans on board.And then it's just one battle, one escape after another. On and on and on. Like a monster movie that never lets up. There are no moments of rest, comic relief, etc. And the main character is sometimes just _around_ for the main action, and not actually being proactively part of it. He's instrumental in saving everyone at the end, but in an.. indirect way. And if he learned anything or grew during the course of the book, it was just the typical 'I must be the leader, hey, I'm not bad as a leader' thing.Finally, the main character has the unfortunate name of Cheney.I can highly recommend the first chapters of this book. I thought they were really cool! But, then, as I said, blah. Maybe if you're the sort who really digs biology or likes monster movies, you'd enjoy it more than I did. ( )
  Jellyn | Jul 23, 2012 |
Take the goriest sci-fi flick you’ve ever seen and combine it with The Magic Schoolbus Travels Inside the Human Body. That’s this book. Awesome. Also, take a peek at that cover: tentacles and a kid with a katana! Yowza! ( )
  twonickels | Nov 12, 2010 |
A very interesting concept of life in space. I liked this adventure thriller. ( )
  hoganedix | Sep 11, 2010 |
First of all, I’d like to thank Harcourt Children’s Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for giving me a copy of this book. I’m always on the lookout for new (to me) authors and think Catherine Jinks is a wonderful find.

Living Hell is set aboard the spaceship Plexus. Humans have left Earth and have been travelling aboard the Plexus for years. Our hero Cheney was board about the ship and knows life to be organized, self-contained and structured. Everything changes, though, when the Plexus is hit by a radiation wave that transforms the ship, turning her against her crew. Cheney and his friends are forced to survive by their wits, trying to find a way to fight back against their home, which is now bent on their destruction.

This is a fantastic book. I read it in one sitting. Catherine Jinks has crafted such a great story, with really engaging characters and a gripping plot. The transformation that the Plexus experiences is very interesting and original, with a slight education bent, which was rather cool. In terms of tone, it sort of reminded me of Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games, since Living Hell deals with life-and-death situations in a very real and honest way.

The author’s website says she’s got more books out so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled the next time I’m at the library. And I’m going to buy a copy of this book for my cousin, who’s a huge fan of the Hunger Games series.

Also published at http://ireadgood.wordpress.com ( )
  jthorburn | Jul 24, 2010 |
The first book I read by Catherine Jinks was Evil Genius and I quite enjoyed it. The next book I had planned on reading by Jinks was Genius Squad, the next book in the series, though admittedly I haven't gotten around to it yet. But when I saw the awesome cover art by Cameron Davis for Jinks' standalone young adult science fiction novel Living Hell, I couldn't pass the book up. (Even better, it turns out the cover fits the story perfectly.) Living Hell was first published in Jinks' native Australia in 2007, making its way to U.S. shores in 2010. I find it interesting that even though Jinks is a medieval scholar (not to pigeonhole anyone or anything), many of her books have science fictional elements to them--this is certainly true in the case of Living Hell. Generally speaking, Jinks handled these components quite well in Evil Genius, which is more real to life, and so I was looking forward to seeing what she would do with the even greater freedom that Living Hell would allow.

Cheney is seventeen although he was technically born thirty-three years ago--it's just that he's been in stasis off and on his entire life, just like everyone else aboard Plexus, searching for a new planet that can support human life. Plexus is a complicated system, making use of DNA and microbial colonies to efficiently function. The ship must be constantly monitored and kept in careful balance. That balance is catastrophically upset when the ship encounters an unknown radiation wave. Soon, Plexus develops into an independent, living system and the humans have lost all control. In fact, they find themselves being hunted down and destroyed by the ship's newly evolved immune system and defense mechanisms. If humanity can adapt fast enough, the people aboard Plexus might just survive. But then what?

For as huge as I imagine the Plexus must be, we actually see very little of the ship in Living Hell. There are however plenty of named characters which I will admit I occasionally found difficult to distinguish--particularly the adults. Part of this was because the writing style included little descriptive material, focusing more on the action. This isn't necessarily a problem in and of itself, but some details seemed only to be introduced as the plot needed them as opposed to being incorporated into the story as a whole. Still, Jinks has a good premise to start with and a strong back-story to support it. I enjoyed her version of a ship with biological elements and most of her basic science fiction is believable. And what isn't is at least a lot of fun.

I was actually somewhat disappointed with Living Hell, despite it being quick, fun, and easy read. The book did give me a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia for the science fiction stories that I read when I was much younger than I am now, which I appreciated and made me smile. But at the same time, I wanted Living Hell to be more complex than it ended up being. I was sorry to see intriguing plot points introduced, but not actually lead anywhere--the genetic heritage of some of the characters being one example. I also felt cheated towards the end of the book when one character stops another from revealing what had previously happened because there were more important things to attend to at that very moment. Granted, that was true, but still, I wanted to know. However the Epilogue, appropriately written in a completely different style, was excellent and a very nice touch. It did make me want to read the appendices referred to, though. Living Hell had a great premise to it, but Jinks didn't pull it off quite as well as I had hoped. She does get some thing right though--Cheney makes a wonderful and very likable protagonist and the background is well thought out--and even sneaks some great biology lessons into the story. I expect that Living Hell will be enjoyed by the younger readers at which it is aimed, but most adults will probably be left wanting something a little more substantial.

Experiments in Reading ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Jul 1, 2010 |
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Chronicles the transformation of a spaceship into a living organism, as seventeen-year-old Cheney leads the hundreds of inhabitants in a fight for survival while machines turn on them, treating all humans as parasites.

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