This book was recommended to me by my brother-in-law, who had just finished the series – so would I enjoy it? The Builders came to Earth in the 23rd century and constructed an elevator from Darwin, Australia into Space. No one knows why, or if they will return. Years later, a virus ravaged the planet. The rare immunes survived, others became something less than human. How the elevator suppresses the disease, and why, remains unknown. But scientist Dr Tania Sharma has a terrifying theory… As Darwin collapses under the onslaught of refugees, reluctant captain Skyler Luiken and his scavenger crew scour the wasteland beyond the elevator’s protective aura for essential resources. But when the alien technology fails, will humanity survive?
The two main protagonists are quite different. Skyler is attempting to hold together his crew of scavengers after the previous captain walked off. But he hasn’t been all that successful – until he gets a particular order… Meanwhile Tania Sharma has to retrieve a data cube in order to complete her hypothesis – and accompanies Skyler’s crew who are tasked to get it for her. But the politics are complicated. Those who live in orbit, tending the farms need the scavenged spare parts that the handful of immunes and scavengers, while those on Earth surrounding the elevator need the food and water that the orbiter farms produce. And there is a scramble for leadership.
This is space opera certainly is chockfull of adventure with plenty going on, other than the aliens lurking in the background. Skyler is an appealing character – I liked the fact that he isn’t a brilliant leader, although he does seem to be expert in surviving against the odds. I wasn’t quite so enamoured of Tania Sharma – all that amazing beauty was a bit alienating and made it harder to empathise with her. The action scenes are well written with plenty of pace and I enjoyed the world and the gismos most of the time, although I would have liked to have known a bit more about the Builders. Neil, the leader of the Orbiters, is certainly one of the more interesting, nuanced characters – while I felt that Russell is just a touch OTT to be truly convincing as a villain.
Overall, it is a fun read and I certainly want to get hold of the next book to discover what happens next, as it ends on a cliff-hanger.