The Exodus Towers

 The Exodus Towers by Jason M. Hough, Dire Earth Cycle #2

When the second elevator makes landfall in Belem, Brazil, a cluster of mysterious black towers appears at its base. Skyler Luiken and his crew soon learn that the alien inhibit the deadly virus and establish a new colony. But when he encounters a crashed Builder ship outside the safe zone, Skyler makes a horrifying discovery: the infected are mutating. 

As militants seize control of the fledgling colony in Belem, and power struggles above and below the Darwin Elevator threaten to destroy it, Dr. Tania Sharma races to predict the next Builder event.

Will the last human outpost on Earth survive to see it?

In August I read The Darwin Elevator, the first book in the Dire Earth Cycle and it brought me to the edge of my seat. In The Darwin Elevator you were introduced to a destroyed Earth, the Builders set an alien device right smack in the middle of Darwin, Australia. An elevator that reaches in to space. But they didn't leave it at that. As a second they unleashed a plague upon the Earth that turned everyone, not in the vicinity of the elevator in Darwin, into a subhuman.The main protagonist, Skyler, is an immune not able to catch the plague of the Builders and a scavenger tasked with seeking out materials and other useful items for the Darwin colony. But with control of the colony going out of control and usurping around the corner the times proving to be precarious. And if that wasn't enough the Builders have more tricks up their sleeve... This is where The Darwin Elevator ended.. A new elevator was put to Earth... 

The placing of the new elevator in Belem, Brazil plays one of the most crucial parts of the story. In The Darwin Elevator, control was lost and retaken by a military coup and the scientist Tania, who was key to figuring out when the Builders would come back again, now has fled with several hubs from the original elevator to Belem and re-established a base there. The focus is now between events happening in Darwin and in Belem. The perspectives now change between these two places and provides just as expected with the first book an engaging narration and some very action-packed scenes. But what mostly is starting to happen is that Jason M. Hough starts to show more of the Builders and all what has been set in motion, creating a great but eerie sense of the actual reason of the Builders and he has definitely managed aroused my interest again in the Dire Earth Cycle. 

In Belem, Brazil the focus lies on the perspectives of both Skyler and Tania. They already had met in the first book and now are establishing a new colony on the new elevator but trying to keep their location safe for Russel Blackwood. But making a colony with only a handful of people and still dependency on the Darwin Elevator makes it all difficult. The first part of the story with Skyler and Tania is something that I wouldn't have guessed possible. Their lives and that of the colony seemed to be going into the right direction insofar as that is possible, but then a "military" organization led by Gabriel is taking over control of the ground forces. This take-over provides a lot of action earlier on in the book. What comes to show from this part is more the naivety that the inhabitants of the colonies had. That they were perhaps the only ones that survived and they shouldn't need to take into account other threats besides the subhumans... ? Well this proved to be quite the opposite as Gabriel and his band of immunes have set his goal on taking over the Belem elevator. What you soon come to learn about Gabriel is quite dark and sinister but fits directly up in the alley of this post-apocalyptic story. The second part in Belem partly re-establishes the normal coming and goings of the colony and I really enjoyed this part of exposing the story in this way. However Skyler does find himself in a position to chase off and find out several why's, how's and if's and the discoveries that he makes... well... the subhumans are evolving... how more dangerous will they ultimately become?

Again I really enjoyed reading about Skyler's adventures. Having lost all off his crew in the first book he has now a new band of immunes with which he set's off on a new mission. And this time around he is still his old captain, not really the bossy kind but more lets be friends with everyone, but it also seems that he has learned some things from the previous books. It seems he is becoming more assertive. His young and perhaps bit inexperienced nature (in several different fields) make him a great character, it is by his adventures and all that he goes through that you see much of the new details of the world. And what makes his character complete is that he is quick witted and fast with his word, and sometimes the strong words he uses fit well into the context of the situations he was thrown in and mostly put a big grin on my ear. 

Tania is a character that now comes to shine. She was important in relation to Neil, but we all know what happened to him... She is taking control as the new leader of the colony of Belem and tries to lead everything into the right direction. But she is faced with a lot of tough choices and one of the first and foremost is that of Russel Blackwood.When I first read about Tania, she came over as just a scientist and quite a fragile at that, but she has come shown that she can stand her own man and is determined to see everything done correctly. She is one that shows some nice development and what is still clinging to the back of my mind in what she did in the end of the book, quite breathtaking... 


In Darwin, Australia the problems aren't solved as well and actually more are popping up. Russel, the new leader of the Darwin Elevator has just last several or let me refrain, most of the agricultural hubs and things down in the desalination plants aren't quite working as planned as well. There are a lot of troubles down in Darwin and Russel recruits the Jacobite Grillo to help him solve some of these problems. But Russel might have just guessed wrong with Grillo's conviction. Another recurring character in this place is Sam, one of the crew of Skyler. It was great to see that she was given her own perspective in the story and this proved to give some nice action and broadening of the storyline. Sam is forced to work for Grillo, managing the scavengers. The most important thing in Darwin happens by the bad guessing of Russel in Grillo.. If you thought that Russel was a bad guy well your in for a surprise when you read about Grillo, talking about nasty and a downright creep. 

I was very pleased with how Jason M. Hough showed Russel in The Exodus Towers. He was the bad guy in the first book but now he is knocked (partially) of his spot and has to seek help with other people that might not even accept him with all that he has done... I think this will proof to be an important learning point for Russel and look forward to see how his character will react in the book to follow. A great addition to the storyline was the perspective of Sam. She was already shown as a hardened soldier, but now she is shown from a lot of different daylights, from the determined soldier to the emotional caring kind. This gave a nice diversity to her character kept a lot of the story interesting, you never know how Sam will react, be it explosive or coldly calculated. 
In The Darwin Elevator we were also introduced to the threats of the subhumans and there were some excellent moments that really gave me goosebumps when I read those. In The Exodus Towers, the real threat from the subhumans, well I should say the normal subhumans does seem to be taken to the background and the encounter only end up with the usual shoot-outs. So I was hoping to see more especially with the mentioning on the synopsis with the mutating of the subhumans. Well you are really in for a surprise on this front. The stuff just keeps on getting weirder and weirder. And much more dangerous at that as well. It now comes to show that a well placed bullet might not seem to be good enough...

What I still bugging me is that with all that we have come to have seen so far, the elevator in Darwin and in Belem, the subhuman plague and other Builder influences on Earth. It is still unclear as the motives of the Builders, we haven't seen one of them so far, just their space ships and their technology. This is on one part quite frustrating but on the other it is really keeping me hooked on this series, I have no clue what so ever but I am dying to find out... 

The Exodus Towers is one of those sequels that you want to have read. With the explosive kick off in The Darwin Elevator and the cliffhanger you were left with in the end, The Exodus Towers follows this directly up in it's story and Jason M. Hough doesn't spare you one moment to catch your breath once you start reading. There is hardly any time spent in recounting the events of the first book, some are dropped on occasion but don't stall the story at all. There is some nice broadening of the characters in The Exodus Towers and each of these new perspectives added a nice twist to the story. Some of them are told in a "show don't tell" kind of way and especially the plans and what Grillo really want to do remains to be seen... Besides the expanding of the characters, there is also a focus on different places on Earth, for starters you have Belem and Skyler does go exploring other places and the references of the earlier earth really inspired the whole new world in me, this was a fine feat of storytelling! As a second book, The Exodus Towers didn't falter a moment and leaves you on just a cliffhanger as the first book! And what do the Builders want!?

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