Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Hell on Earth by Ally Blue focuses on one of the characters from the initial novel in this series, Hell’s End. Sandman has finally escaped Level 36 and is headed to Mars, one of the few planets that boast fresh air and sunshine. Sandman realizes too late that the ship he is on has actually been commandeered by the rebellion forces on Mars and set to explode upon arrival. Thinking he is helping land the saboteurs in jail, Sandman turns them in only to find himself brought up on trumped up charges and exiled to another planet that houses “lifers,” those destined for a lifetime of imprisonment. However, upon boarding the prison transport ship, Sandman is told that most, if not all, such ships never reach their destination, but are instead rerouted to some unknown destination. His job is to find out why and where prisoners are being taken to and report back to the rebellion.
Along with Sandman is the captain of the initial ship he rescued from the hands of the rebellion. Vijay has also been sentenced to life imprisonment and is now part of the team with Sandman who must discover the secrets to the missing transports. However, before either man can figure out where they are to land, the ship crashes into the icy waters of Earth, a planet long since being thought uninhabitable. Here the two stumble upon an elaborate governmental system that uses both natives and those who survive the transport crash landings for horrific experimentation. Someone is building a super race of soldiers and Vijay and Sandman are being hunted for just that purpose. Hiding out with other survivors who have been attempting to infiltrate the system, Sandman is captured while in pursuit of an informer. Now Vijay and a few others must find a way to get him back before he is either killed or altered irreparably.
My short synopsis hardly does this amazing story justice. Once again, author Ally Blue shows us her immense talent at creating alternative worlds and inhabiting them with the most fascinating people. Sandman is back and larger than life. Vulnerable and angry, he is forced to rely on something other than his own wits to survive and finds himself drawn irresistibly to Vijay. Vijay, himself, is a product of a now barren past life where all he loved and knew had been destroyed. He carries the pain of seeing those he loved burned alive and finds himself caring for Sandman despite the younger man’s prickly nature. These two are surrounded by a secondary cast that are not only fascinating characters themselves, but whose stories are sure to make fodder for another novel should author Ally Blue wish to extend this series.
The real talent of this author lays in the way in which she is able to shape a world that not only seems so foreign and exciting, but also has its roots in the familiar. We are drawn to this world expressly because of the three-dimensional people she creates to inhabit it. I was so struck by the tenderness that Blue created between Vijay and Sandman. I watched with amazement as she slowly broke down the walls that Sandman had built around himself to allow Vijay in to love him and care for him. The author uses this brash, cocky young man who hides such incredible fear and anger to show her readers that love can change a person, free them and allow them to embrace happiness for the first time.
I was so impressed by this novel. It is so often the case that a sequel can fall short of the impact the first book makes upon the reader. Not so here. Hell On Earth is even more exciting and fascinating than its predecessor and I highly recommend it to you. While you could read this novel as a standalone, it is best to read the first, Hell’s End, if only to have a point of reference for Sandman’s back story and all that makes him who he has become at the beginning of this sequel.