Originally from South Amboy NJ, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.
His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.
About the book
It started with the insects.
The mass die-offs had been a warning unheeded. Before society realized the danger, the Earth had inexorably begun a transformation into a place where life could not survive. A small group found shelter in the Arc, an underground refuge safe from the toxins ravaging the surface.
After centuries of darkness, humanity’s second chance is running out—and Raven Wilder knows it.
Her job fixing the machinery in the Arc makes her aware of how close everything is to breaking down. When the systems fail, the last survivors of the human race will suffocate in the tunnels meant to protect them from the deadly air outside—starting with the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, in an example of history repeating itself, those in charge dismiss her concerns.
When her six-year-old begins showing signs of oxygen deprivation, Raven refuses to go quietly into oblivion. She will break every rule to keep her daughter alive.
Raven is part of a nearly two-hundred person strong community. Survivors. Descendants of survivors. The last remnants of the human race living deep under the earth in a multi-layered facility built exactly for that purpose.
Raven is also one of a very small number of women of child bearing age, so according to the community it is up to them, their wombs and their fertility to keep the human race alive and kicking. No romantic matches – just genetically more or less suitable copulation. Sounds really enticing.
When certain details of her daily job start to make her suspicious about the safety of the underground facility and simultaneously about how dangerous it actually is above ground. You know, where the air is poisonous and the aliens are waiting to disintegrate any human in sight. She starts to ask uncomfortable questions.
It’s a dystopian futuristic story with a strong and determined main character.
Although the story is heavy on the technical and mechanical details, it was refreshing that the women are equal in skills and job assignments. I say that, despite the fact they are also treated like convenient descendant incubators. There is no question of capability when it comes to securing and repairing equipment that will keep them alive underground or doubt in her skills when she is chosen to fix something on the topside.
From a dystopian and sci-fi genre perspective the concept of an underground community, the survivors of a major earth destroying disaster reinventing the wheel somewhere deep under the earth, isn’t a new one. It is however always fascinating to see how authors interpret a scenario like that differently.
Cox delivers a compelling read about survival, denial and the way entire civilisations are driven by myths and rules dictated by ancestors.