Way Down Dark by J. P. Smythe

The basics

Title: Way Down Dark


Series: The Australia Trilogy #1

- Way Down Dark (July 2015)
- Long Dark Dusk (April 2016)
- Untitled (????)

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Goodreads Summary:

There's one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both.

Seventeen-year-old Chan's ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.

The only life that Chan's ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness - a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery - a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.

And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain.

Read a full summary of Way Down Dark by J P Smythe below. If you can’t remember what happened in Way Down Dark and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

in short

Chan’s mother dies right at the beginning and Chan is left with only her second mother, Agatha. The Lows get a new Rex, who is basically Chan’s rival from the start. The Lows start to take out everyone on the ship under Rex’s guidance, and Chan tries to save as many people as possible. Chan gets hurt and Agatha takes her to a place under the ship. It’s revealed that Australia is a prison ship and the inmates took over years ago, and this place is where the guards lived. Chan’s father was a guard who went around trying to have lots of children. Rex kills Agatha after Bess sets her free (Chan took her below the ship after a fight), and Chan goes to kill Rex. She can’t do it, though. The prison starts to flood and Chan gets as many people below as possible. They shoot down to Earth, leaving Australia behind. Some people separate the adults and the children and Chan eventually wakes up in a room and vows to save Mae and the other children.

what happened in Way Down Dark?

  • Chan’s mother, Riadne, dies right at the beginning and Chan has to be the one to kill her. Riadne had a reputation and by killing her, Chan would secure her own in the future. Riadne obviously thought this up. So Chan kills her mother and burns her body. One of the leaders of the gangs confronts her, Chan stabs him, and someone else takes his place.
  • Chan travels down to a lower level to buy some new shoes. She hurts her foot on the way down. She also runs into some of the Pale Women, who give her a copy of their Testaments.
  • The guy who Chan was going to buys shoes from is killed, so Chan is forced to go to someone else. This guy is an arse and starts suggesting things that Chan could do as payment, so she knifes him between the legs and takes the shoes and returns home.
  • Agatha tells a story about when she and Riadne were younger. Agatha was asked to find Riadne when she went missing, and Agatha went to the Lows. The leader there said he had Riadne. Agatha went to get her and managed to save her.
  • The Lows start to rebel under the leadership of their new Rex. Every night they kill people from the other sections and levels.
  • Chan tries to rescue as many people as she can. She and Jonah go up to the top floors to protect the Pale Women. Rex and her Lows are already up there. The Pale Women get killed and Chan gets injured.
  • Chan wakes up in a clean room. She freaks out a bit and it turns out that PLOT TWIST, Australia is a prison ship. The inmates rebelled generations ago and killed the guards and took over the ship. The lower floors are under the Pit and really difficult to get to. No one knows about them but Agatha, Chan, and Jonah.
  • Agatha tells Chan that her father was one of the guards. He came up from the nice levels and tried to have as many children as possible. Riadne and Agatha tricked him into thinking his baby with Riadne had died.
  • Chan watches Australia from the screens in the lower levels. She decides that she has to save the children. She makes several trips and rescues as many children as possible.
  • Chan goes up and fights Rex, who has inserted Riadne’s knife into her stumpy arm. It’s infected. Chan takes Rex with her to the lower levels.
  • Chan takes Bess with her next, which she thinks is the right thing to do but ultimately Bess betrays them and lets Rex out. Rex kills Agatha.
  • Chan goes and fights Rex again and wins.

how did it end?

The ship starts to break and water begins to flood the prison. Chan tells people to follow her below the Pit. She manages to save a good amount of people. She presses a button that separates the lower levels from the actual prison, and their new spaceship starts to head back to Earth. A hole forms in the ship and people begin to get sucked out, but in the end Chan and Mae (the most important people) make it to Earth. Their ship is surrounded by people from Earth. Chan sees that Rex is alive (but unconscious). She can’t find Jonah. The people from Earth separate the adults from the children. Chan wakes up in a hospital-type room and breaks free in order to find Mae and the others.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Way Down Dark by J P Smythe. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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