cover image Hell Divers

Hell Divers

Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Blackstone, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5047-2584-2

In Smith's (Orbs) underwhelming post-apocalyptic series opener, the last surviving humans live in two giant airships circling a radioactive Earth. The implausibility of the situation is only increased by the introduction of the Hell Divers, who jump to the surface to scavenge for supplies and send them back up to the ships. When seasoned diver Xavier "X" Rodriguez encounters a new breed of monster, the increasingly necessary dives become even more dangerous, just as the second ship, the Ares, is badly damaged in an electrical storm. On board X's ship, the Hive, class tensions are coming to a head as lowerdeckers fight for equality. Exposition dumps, stilted dialogue, and sentimentality in place of character development make it hard to find a reason to keep reading, but military SF readers and fans of The Last Ship will find enjoyment in familiar ground. Random digressions into religion and philosophy further confuse the narrative, and toward the end, it starts to feel like a video game with complicated win conditions. Agent: David Fugate, Launch Books Literary. (July)