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Way Down Dark

(The Australia Trilogy #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  574 ratings  ·  142 reviews
The first in an extraordinary new YA trilogy by James Smythe, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

There's one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both.

Seventeen-year-old Chan's ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.

The only life that Chan's ever known is one of violence, of fighting. O
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
On a generation ship called Australia a young woman has just lost her mother and struggles with her last directives. Be selfish. Look out for yourself first. Survive.

It just happens that Chan's mother dying is the catalyst for a new leader of the Lows to come to power. The Lows are animalistic savages that live in the lower parts of the ship and have been slowly expanding their control for years. The society on-board has been stable for a long time, but no longer.

This is good dystopian SF, altho
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hachette, bookgasm
Way Down Dark is the young adult dystopian of the year. Gritty storyline and a strong willed, determined, kick ass heroine that will have you on the edge of your seat. It's dirty, it's gritty and exactly what the dystopian genre needs. A tough, balls to the wall storyline that holds the reader hostage. And you'll love every. Freaking. Moment. It's action from cover to cover, leaving little time for you to catch your breath.

Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
This book is dark and gritty and went places I didn't expect. I completely see why it was shortlisted in 2016 for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. ...more

Actual Rating 3.5

Hundreds of years ago, people fled a dying Earth in search of a new home. They never found one.

Everything the people on the spaceship Australia remember now is from the stories that were handed down, generation to generation; there is no permanent record of any of it. All the books have long since crumbled, and any scraps of use – be they fabric, metal scavenged from the ship itself, or items collected from the decomposing bodies in the pit at the bottom of the ship
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full Review crossposted to Read at Midnight.

Not everybody could be saved, that’s how the story goes. The people sent up in the ships – they were the lucky ones.
First, an intro: Way Down Dark is follow the spaceship Australia. It carries the descendants of humans from generations past who fled the Earth when life as we knew it collapsed. They’ve been drifting endlessly in space, the ship – once a mode of transport to salvation – is now the only world the humans know.

1. You Like Strong Female
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Not knowing anything about Way Down Dark before I started, boy was I in for a surprise. Somehow, I’d gotten it into my head based on the series title that this would be a post-apocalyptic dystopian set Down Under—but no, the novel is actually a generation ship story taking place on an interstellar space vessel called the Australia. In fact, the name of the ship itself is significant and made one of the plot twists later
Liz Barnsley
Way Down Dark was simply fantastic – a rip roaring kind of old school adventure set in Space, a perfect piece of storytelling aimed at the young adult audience that anyone of any age will absolutely adore. Forget The Hunger Games – you ain’t seen nothing yet…

So anyway we meet Chan, who is fending for herself after her Mother dies, living aboard Australia – where violence abounds, day to day living is tense and insecure and also where things are about to get a lot worse as one of the factions abo
Wow! Way Down Dark is an exciting, fast-paced, action-filled dystopian with a very well-built world that ends up being an incredible beginning to a new trilogy. Seriously, I would be shocked if The Australia Trilogy does not become a huge thing. The story-telling is absolutely phenomenal.

Chan, a seventeen year old girl, is our main protagonist. She lives on a ship called the Australia and has her whole life, as well as the generations before her. Australia is searching for a new planet to live
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Life on the Australia spaceship is hard: the Earth is gone, only handfuls of survivors were sent on such ships through space, in the hopes that someday they'd find a new place to live... but aren't these travellers way too entrenched in destructive ways to even reach that someday? This is what I found deeply intriguing and nagging in this novel: a strong dichotomy between the goal, the Promised Earth, and how the ship's peop
I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

In a sea of Young Adult dystopian novels, Way Down Dark felt like a breath of fresh air. Ironically, considering it is set entirely on a claustrophobic spaceship. I really don’t like it when books are branded as ‘The next Hunger Games’ or whatever the current trend is, as this has been called, and it really isn’t that similar.

Australia, the ship where Chan lives, has sever
Hundreds of years ago, or so it is believed, humanity escaped a dying earth, searching for a new place to call home.

They never found one.

Now, there is only survival.

Way Down Dark by James Smythe is an altogether darkly disturbing and gritty dystopia set on the broken and decaying remnants of The Australia, a ship lost for generations in the vast emptiness of space. The Australia is a brutal landscape, adrift in the void and built upon violence and disorder, crumbling infrastructure and dwindli
Brett Orr
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read more reviews like this on my blog!

Gritty. Dark. Brutal. These are buzzwords that are routinely used in reviews of Young Adult novels, but never have these words been more fitting than for James Smythe's WAY DOWN DARK, the first novel in the AUSTRALIA trilogy. The 'Australia' itself is a colossal spaceship sent adrift through space, searching for a new home after the destruction of Earth - but the ship has been floating for hundreds of years without communication or governmental control. Ins
May 07, 2016 rated it liked it
YA Dystopia in Spaaace... the world seems ill-considered, but then it makes sense toward the end after the big reveal when it becomes IT WAS A ____ THE WHOLE TIME. Too unambiguous about the evil guys, fails to humanize all sides, but for a spacious, quick and easy YA novel, it's a good read, with strong, imperfect female characters that dominate the narrative in ways that feel perfectly natural and uncontrived. ...more
Bilbo Baggins
Nov 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Did not like this at aaaaaall.
Yolanda Sfetsos
As soon as I received this book--thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy--I was intrigued. I love the cover, and the blurb sounded even better. So, I was super excited about receiving a YA book that I hadn't heard about but sounded so interesting.

Chan lives inside a ship that's hurtling through space. It's called Australia and is filled with people of all ages. Everyone is trying to survive under the very restrictive conditions. There are many stories and myths on this ship, but the o
Review first published here: https://thecurioussffreader.wordpress...


I'm glad I gave Way Down Dark a try, it's definitely one of the most original YA I read in a while. As the synopsis suggests, this book is really dark. In the opening chapter, Chan, the main character kills her mother. Of course she has her reasons, but still, I don't think I read a YA book as bloody before.

Way Down Dark is an interesting approach on the YA SF subgenre and I liked the ideas it was trying to handle. It's
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, sci-fi
In Way Down Dark, James Smythe’s trademark bleakness gets the young adult treatment. What, you weren’t expecting a cheery book were you? There is a sense of futility on board the Australia. That no matter what you do, you can’t undo the choices made by previous generations. It can feel impossible to escape the circumstances you were born into. Something that has become a general feeling amongst disillusioned, younger generations today.

Life on board the Australia is tough but Chan makes the most
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
First, READ THE SYNOPSIS. I did not and I thought this trilogy would be set in post-apocalyptic Australia. It's not. Not at all. This is a book about a ship in space called Australia (view spoiler) I'm so disappointed in this one probably in part because my expectations right from the start were completely off.

The story had an interesting beginning that was brutal and bloody and the first scene is pretty surprising. Then it seemed
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
This is really 3.5 stars. I was not completely convinced by this story for the first half, enjoyable and something different. A spacecraft called Australia has been sent off because terrible things had happened to the world and flying adrift trying to find somewhere to land, it's been 400 odd years now since they left. Society has pretty well become a dog eat dog world by now and only the strong, the quick and the agile survive. Chan is the main character, and she is resourceful and very determi ...more
Daphne (Illumicrate)
Finished this at the start of the week and it's taken this long to collect just a few thoughts. Wow. This is what dystopian YA should be. It's utterly gritty, no holds barred meyhem, with really fantastic female characters. Australia is a bleak, bleak place. If you're looking for a Mad Max fix after the film, this is really the book for you. Damn you, James, for that ending! ...more
Niall Alexander
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Central character a little lacking, otherwise an abject lesson for other authors in how to bring challenging fiction to the YA market.
This might be James Smythe's first YA novel but it is a corker! Violent, bleak, dark as pitch and downright exhilarating, I didn't want it to end. Brilliant title, too...

Ian Martyn
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Even though this is YA fiction I would recommend to anyone. Dark and sinister.
originally posted at:

I have to make a confession, I first thought this book was about the continent of Australia, there I said it. Boy was I wrong. James Smythe is well known for his science fiction book The Explorer and the recent sequel The Echo. With Way Down Dark, James Smythe ventures into the dangerous territory of Young Adult fiction. For me YA is dangerous, it is a tricky genre to write into perhaps the young folk are even more critical then adult
Helen Bendell
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! The first part was definitely stronger than the last two parts but the whole thing worked really well and I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel soon.

The first part has a really claustrophobic atmosphere as Chan tries to survive life on the ship known as Australia. It’s suffocating as danger is found round every corner and this really draws you into the conflict. Speaking of Chan, she was a compelling main character with a dynamic internal conflict. I felt her confl
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough how much I just couldn't put this book down. I was looking forward to my commute. I rushed to Waterstones the minute I finished it to get the other two. SO. GOOD. PLEASE go and read the trilogy! ...more
Megan Leigh
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Review originally appeared on Pop Verse.

I enjoy a good dystopian YA thriller as much as the next Hunger Games fan, but there comes a point when I’ve got to say enough is enough. They have all become so samey. Once the initial depressing world is set-up, these stories practically write themselves – and not in a good way. They are beyond predictable. While Smythe’s engaging prose may be enough to keep YA dystopian fans reading, the story just wasn’t enough to make me care.

The first half of the boo
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars

◆ Thanks to NetGalley for this eBook copy for review ◆

Way Down Dark was a good, gritty sci-fi dystopian, but my problem was that I couldn't find much uniqueness or structure in the story. There might have been a few differences when it came to the social system, the setting, the violence - but in the end it echoed too many things I've seen time and time again (I think Dystopia as a genre suffers from this a lot due to previous successes and
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Way Down Dark is the new novel from J P Smythe and I’ll begin with a small admission, I’ve never actually read anything by this particular author. I’m always a little excited/nervous in this situation. Nothing like an unknown quantity to keep you on your toes. Once I had read the book blurb I was more than a little intrigued. When it comes to choosing books to read I rely heavily on instinct. Turns out my gut has served me well in this case, Way Down Dark is absolutely great.

Chan is a fascinatin
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
4.75 stars

When I think about this book, I’m reminded of the front cover, or, more specifically, of a less stylized central well of the huge ship Australia. The protagonist looks up into the darkness, at the layer up on layer of decks, crumbling down around her, at the stained and rusted metal of the hulk that she calls home. I have a lot of feelings about this book. Touching on science fiction and horror with a gothic vibe, think dystopia but in space.

Story: 4.5 /5
The premise caught my attention
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Other books in the series

The Australia Trilogy (3 books)
  • Long Dark Dusk (The Australia Trilogy, #2)
  • Dark Made Dawn (The Australia Trilogy, #3)

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