I am not normally a lover of science fiction stories. To date I have now read about three books in the sci-fi genre, one being a school assignment, another being a short story in a collection of other thriller/sci-fi stories and the latest a book that I actually chose, purchased and read. That last one if the book “Hellhole.” It is part of a series and I now want all the books because it is a book in this genre that I honestly truly enjoyed.

Written by Kevin Anderson and Brian Herbert, “Hellhole” transports the reader to a futuristic world in which planets are managed like the countries under Roman rule (albeit without the gladiators and religious persecution). The planets are divided into two categories: The Crown Jewels and the Deep Zone planets. The book starts with an attempted and failed rebellion. This sets the stage for a story divided between activities occurring in the Deep Zone planets (where the rebellion leader is exiled to the planet Hellhole) and the political movements among the Crown Jewels. The story ultimately involves multiple characters and has a multitude of twists and turns, all adding to my love for it.

Along with its engaging and well-paced plot, there are a host of reasons why I loved “Hellhole” such as:

The universe is futuristic without being implausible

“Hellhole” doesn’t limit itself by giving a possible date or year for when the events are occurring, giving it a huge amount of freedom. The organization of the planets, travel system and other factors that make up this universe are thankfully tight enough to comprehend but loose enough to make plausible.

The story ties back to humanity on Earth without weighing the story down with the past

Several times throughout the story different details tie back to humanity on Earth. These passing comments or side notes give the reader the implication of the characters’ ancestry and a gauge for how far they have come. Bless Anderson and Herbert though because they don’t waste time with a timeline of how far the story is from where we are now. The relation to humanity on Earth gives a small, brief origin for the characters without diverting the story. Also no mention of race (maybe racism will have actually died out by the time we can fly between planets like countries!)

The planetary system is unique without being overly complicated

As previously mentioned the planets are organized like countries while being governed like the United States: all planets under one ruler. By manipulating trade and transportation the reigning government is able to keep control (to a point as the reader finds out later). It is an efficient and easy to understand system without going into intense details about rules, regulations etc.

Readers get to know minor characters without being overloaded with a billion characters to keep track of just before killing them (cough cough George R.R. Martin you murderous fuck)

Between the con man on the run, the girl on the run from a murderous ex, territorial governors, an unknown alien race and others, “Hellhole” offers a host of different minor characters to get to know. They all play a role in the larger overall plot but don’t interfere with it by diverting the story to focus on their life stories. Additionally they don’t die off in droves so there is no need to always get to know a whole new cast of characters.

The plot includes a few twists that make you want to know (read) more

These include a hidden rebellion, an assistant seeking nobility status, alien consciousnesses joining with human minds, the book is jampacked with events you don’t see coming. It all works with and adds to the main plot though and makes you just want more.

The characters have a good amount of depth that makes them relatable

The characters were great. Love or hate certain character though the reader might, it just proves the level of depth the authors gave them. Each one has layers showcased without going into extensive detail and enough flaws to make them relatable. Its a great balance overall, provides humanity and a sense of reality to the characters and doesn’t give you one flawless hero who you feel you must love entirely.

Looking back after just finishing the first book it is easy for me to see why I loved the book and would gladly recommend it to others, whether they like sci-fi or not. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books that wrap up this story. At this point I don’t have much choice in whether or not I buy them since my copy was signed and I got to meet the author. I couldn’t get rid of it even if I wanted to, and I don’t so I might as well get all of the books in the series and get through the entire story and pray that things don’t tank.

Now I must return to scouring the web for the second and third books (Anderson and Herbert let me buy your books, damn you)!

unnamedWritten by Brianna Gibbons, writer, book reviewer and avid reader. For more book-based talk, follow her on Twitter @Bookworm_ish.

Written by Brianna Gibbons