01 The Write Elements: MUST READ: Living Hell - Catherine Jinks

Sunday, 20 November 2016

MUST READ: Living Hell - Catherine Jinks


Living Hell is a serious survival-horror-action-science fiction novel. I never experienced anything like it when I read it when I was around 13 years old and I still remember it sooo many years on. I'm talking like 9-ish. AND this is the cover, ladies and gentlemen. Isn't it epic?

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.

from Goodreads
You felt it
Near the beginning 
The more he described what plexus had as safety barriers - which I have to say Caroline probably did immense research on (heat-resistant porous films..what?)- the more likely everything was gonna go south 
The set up was all there.Though it may seem a bit draggy by the enormous explanations of everything aboard Plexus, it does provide you with the world - kinda - that Caroline has created. 

Having more than a dozen characters to think for and write about is a feat. They had their quirks and own voices to contribute to the story. None seemed irrelevant, which is fantastic. All characters should be used usefully (yeah I had to)

As the synopsis goes, Plexus turned..it became a force. Imagine that your own home has become a war zone. You have to fight, run, hide just to survive. Unfortunately for them, they can't just get out. They're in space. You don't get a chance to blink or even breathe when the next moment hits you. Living Hell is a true thriller.

"You are my greatest achievement"
That line will always get me. 

I love the way Catherine wrote. She didn't simply describe the state of Plexus but let us know what was happening through her characters, especially the panicked voices. 
You could write *SPOILER* "pink goo" or you could have Cheney discover it. He's seventeen but the way he calls out '"Dad?" .. "Dad?"' he seems seven. And it's amazing. 
Or by shouts like "Argh!" and "Moving!"
Catherine takes you into the world by doing this. 
you can tell everyone has been scared so bad they're reduced to children. It's mayhem and fear and worry throughout from such powerful - it doesn't always have to be thought-provoking, sometimes it can just be full of emotion - dialogue. 
I was either biting my lip or completely grim-faced, brows furrowed and all. 

 This was stupendous. And how often do you hear people use this word. 
I've read it before but I still remember that rush and suspense as the countdown ended. 
If you really want to understand the meaning of "calm before the storm", this is it.
What followed was this incredible scene. It was as if there was a visible sigh of relief all around because, hey, it seemed like danger has passed. 
But like any plot, if it's too early in the pages something is about to go down. 

 It was a fearsome way to show us the inexplicable change. Though there wasn't really a proper idea within the story - the synopsis does give you a huge clue - as to why the self-preserving space home went berserk, with so much action you don't really have time to think. 

To skip ahead.. 


"The human body?" conclusion was what I was waiting for! 

I now feel if characters get truly heroic - and you know with heroism in the mid of books, it's gonna ..well we always hope it turns out - they should get a picture/page

Cheney matured in that split second he had to be the "grown-up" amongst his peers was a significant moment. You could tell he had changed. From his sort of seven-year-old self. I mean, didn't anyone else forget his age in the way he was reacting to situations? Minus his clever intuition and training. 
(Not that I would have been better) 

I felt Arkwright remained extremely true to what I believe his character was - ultimate dependable, intelligent, brave. 
Brave is certainly right. Somehow his decision at the last moment which saved..as many as they could. I would have written "everyone" but... yeah.
His self-sacrifice was amazing. And probably why it was described rather than in dialogue because of his heroism. 

Sloan was a character I was the most confused with, though I remember initially liking him.
He exuded the perfect specimen type. Initially. As I read I grew to like him.. less actually. 
I don't know if the passing of his parents did truly affect him, which it should have. You can tell he wasn't exactly normal 
He had this hero complex. It's possible he believed he was invincible. From parts like trying to go up against a gobbling monster with a laser pen - I'm nice so I hoped he was attempting to give everyone a chance to escape but maybe he didn't make it. 
Of course he was only mentioned in passing at the end, in sobs and Cheney's shock
This question will haunt me unless the dear author has made a comment somewhere about why :')

The epilogue is saddening but thought-provoking. 
I can imagine that though it was for self-preservation of Plexus...this homicidal manic entity is not far from showing us a massacre, which does happen in real life. Wars, violence, blind mass killings. 
We need to understand the fragility. 

Cheney's last line:

"So I have placed on record this story of our transformation. It's a moral tale, to some degree. We have learned, most painfully. that our command of life was built on fragile foundations - that pride, in effect, comes before a fall. That there will always be change, no matter how hard you might strive for stability. And that, like me, you may have a destiny you can't escape."

Leave you to mull over that

It's a MUST READ for me. Let me know what you think too :)

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