Hodder & Stoughton | 2016 | 313p | Review copy | Buy the book
With Dark Made Dawn, J.P. Smythe’s Young Adult science fiction trilogy Australia comes to an end. You obviously need to have read Way Down Dark and Long Dark Dusk first and this review assumes that you’ve had the pleasure.
It’s a difficult task to review the final book in a trilogy because it’s all too easy to give away something you shouldn’t. But what I can say is that Dark Made Dawn picks up shortly after Long Dark Dusk finished and it takes off at a rocket’s pace. Once more Chan finds herself in a compromised situation, having to do what she must to survive, driven on by her need to protect the people closest to her while continuing her quest to find the child she once cared for aboard Australia. But the time for compromise is drawing to an end. Chan must make a difficult choice and, once made, there can be no turning back. Chan is determined and once she sets off, it’s all we can do to hang on for the ride. And what a dangerous, thrilling ride it is.
Dark Made Dawn does a fine job of completing the story. It’s exciting and it satisfies. It also continues the themes and mood of the other two books and in Chan’s progress she is true to herself. She knows better than anyone how hard it is to trust and in this society few people present a truly honest front to the world. Good and evil aren’t straight forward, people are constantly surprising, but there is one constant – the darkness of this dystopian Earth.
There is no doubt that this is a gloomy portrait of a future Earth but its worldbuilding is fantastic with cities enclosed by great walls or rising seas and outsiders scraping a living in the city-surrounding deserts of this ruined planet. There is futuristic technology but it’s used sparingly and effectively.
The main focus of this book, and the two preceding it, is Chan. Her life has been so hard and it continues to be so here. And we desperately want her to succeed, even though she knows that there are times when she must be the worst she can. But Chan isn’t alone in this novel. There’s someone else with her and they are fascinating to watch, although for me it is still Chan, the girl who fell to Earth, who rules this book.
I’ve been reading and enjoying James Smythe’s novels since the beginning and there is something very special about them. They’re intense and bold, dark and, at times, despairing. But they are always clever and very different, even from each other. I look forward to discovering what he has in store for us next.
Also reviewed at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm