Hell’s End, book 1

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HellsEnd72lgTitle: Hell’s End, book 1
Author: Ally Blue
Cover artist: Kanaxa
Publisher: Samhain
Amazon Buy Link:Hell’s End (Hellscape)
Genre: gay alternate worlds
Length: novel
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

A guest review by Sirius.

Summary: Enjoyable, action packed sci-fi, I loved the characters, but would not have minded knowing more about them.

Blurb:

Tuck’s a Gutter, one of a gang of violent orphans running level thirty-six of Hell’s End, the solar system’s outermost space station. There’s only one way out of this brotherhood of blood—grow up and be killed and eaten by other Gutters.

Tuck barely escapes his death sentence, only to fall prey to the powerful L’arisian family. Rescue from a L’arisian whorehouse never happens, but rescued he is, and by Gov soldiers no less. Alone among the enemy, Tuck trusts only one person—the man who risked everything to pluck him to safety.

Ivan’s a soldier. No more, no less. But the disquieting things he learns about the Government’s plans for the Gutter kid have him doing the one thing a soldier shouldn’t do. Think about doing what’s right instead of what he’s told. All for a guy he can’t get out of his head.

Getting involved in a rebellion that might get them killed is a problem. Falling in love? That’s a disaster in the making.

Review:

As you can see from the blurb, this book is set up in a harsh, futuristic world, where a lot of people are fighting to survive, corrupted government does awful things and rebels are trying to overthrow the government. The author dedicated the book to Asimov, Heinlane, and other scifi masters. I can see why. Now, was the world building and action of the same quality as in the books of those writers ? Not in my opinion, no, but as far as I am concerned there are VERY few scifi writers in the world who could do better job than Asimov and my other favorites of classic scifi. On its own this book was quite enjoyable though  and I thought it added the romance in quite successfully. Scifi part of the book was not unique, but definitely intrigued me.

The story often moved very fast and I really liked  it - I was glued to the pages of the book. As you can see from the blurb Tuck is a survivor, who is forced to fight for his life on the first pages and in fact we learned that while he was amongst the Gutters, his life was pretty much constant fight for survival. I really liked how the action packed storyline managed to incorporate his developing romance with Ivan. Obviously since the book is mostly fast paced, there was not much time for them to talk about feelings, but I really liked how when they realize that they are in love, even though they did not seem to previously talk about it,  to me it made sense. The fast initial attraction to me made perfect sense - I bought that you could be attracted to the person who saved your life in a world where you see so little kindness from everybody.

I was so worried that the story would have one of my very big pet peeves – the characters having sex during the exact same moments while their lives are in instant danger - but thank goodness it did not happen, not once. The sex scenes were a perfect “lets catch a breath” between all the action moments to me and they felt hot and tender, and I was overall quite pleased with them. Apparently, it is possible to have sex at somebody’s home (or whatever counted for such) even in the middle of being involved in the very dangerous, life threatening things :).

I have to admit that I wish the book did not employ another pet peeve of mine – one of the leads is big and the other, you know, not tiny, but pretty small, but I guess one cannot have everything. Do not get me wrong, Tuck is a very strong character,  but one day I will figure out why so many couples in mm fiction look like that. Why cannot they look more or less of similar stature, I do not know.

Note that this is an action piece, so do not expect the characters to engage in much introspection, but whatever glimpses we catch in their inner selves made sense to me and I liked it. I really wanted to know more about Ivan though – we do see his POV, and Tuck’s (the book is written from the third person POV), but I am still not sure who is he, besides being strong, loyal and smart and loving Tuck of course. Tuck is more interesting and developed character but I was hoping for more depth for him as well.

And I have to say how very much I loved the portrayal of women in this world. It is scifi, so why indeed not go all the way and I loved that the author did that. We see women who are leaders, soldiers, doctors, bodyguards, even the leaders of the crime families and yes, some of them just briefly mentioned, but I loved it that the author portrayed the world where apparently women can do whatever job they want – even if the government is so horrible. We see women as leaders of the rebels too, and of course we see nasty character or two amongst them as well – why not? But I loved that the women were visible in the world created in this novel, loved it.

Recommended.

The book is available from Samhain on May 21 and available for preorder now.

15 thoughts on “Hell’s End, book 1

  1. Wave

    Great review Sirius. I have always loved Ally’s writing, especially her female characters, and I’m pleased to see that she gives them a lot of positive face time here.

    As for the world building, since this is the first book in a new series from what I can gather it seems that the author gave readers enough and I’m sure we’ll get more as the series progresses.

    I know what you mean about the relative physical sizes of the protagonists in m/m romances. Guess most authors are still thinking about male/female sizes. However most of the time I don’t see this as the norm in military or similar MCs (I read a lot of military books as you probably know) :smile: so things are changing. :grin:

    1. Sirius

      Hey Wave, I will be honest – my last book by Ally Blue was “Tamed heart”. I never hated her writing, quite the contrary, but I just moved on to the writers I liked more. Now I have to go back and see if she wrote other books like this one :)

      I am NOT complaining about world building, do not get me wrong – I figure the author invited inevitable comparison to the classical masters of the old scifi by dedicating the book to them, you know? But on its own for me it functioned well, and I felt the setting was more than a window dressing for romance, which is more than I can say about many mm books which claim to be scifi.

      Re: sizes of the characters – true, you won’t see the disparity in sizes like that in Marquesate’s books for example, and some other military books too, but I kind of feel that the military books are a little bit different exception than what I am talking about. I like reading about all kind of couples, all kind of settings and themes, but I wish a bit more couples looked like regular guys of the similar sizes, not just huge alphas if that makes sense?

      Kind of the guys in “Turbulence” by JCP, or the guys in ‘Whistling in the Dark” by Tamara Allen or any book by hers.

      And of course there are couples when one guy is smaller in size – it is just there are so MANY of them in mm that it became a pet peeve eventually.

      1. BunnyGypsy

        (Typing from touch tablet, so excuse my typing mistakes, lol. :p )

        Um, regarding the size differences, maybe this is related to how couples in Boys Love(BL) or yaoi/shounen-ai are often portrayed? Because in those, there is almost always a size difference. There are yaoi that have similar-sized protagonists, but in most of the ones I’ve encountered, the “alpha” or top (seme/pitcher) is usually larger or muscular than the bottom (uke/catcher). Usually, the uke is slender and more feminine, while the seme is larger and more masculine.

        And yaoi, like m/m fiction (and slash fanfiction), is often read by a female audience. Maybe there’s a bit of a connection there? Just guessing here, as a former yaoi fan who now reads m/m fiction. (I still read slash fanfiction.)

        (Wikipedia has more info as well as anime/manga sites and websites such as TVTropes and Fanlore, etc)

        1. Sirius Post author

          Hi, I am glad you decided to come out of lurking (I see your comment on the chat window :)).

          Oh, of course, I am sure it is connected to yaoi at least in part. When I asked why, that was not quite what I meant :). I guess, as much as I like yaoi, I do not want all mm to be completely yaoi like and want to see a variety in looks if that makes sense? I mean, mm is such a mixture of styles, genres, subgenres. You have mystery, scifi, fantasy which may have mm storyline mixed in, you may have contemporary. You have at least some influences of gay fiction – I guess I do not want it to resemble only yaoi and the guys look like your typical couple in yaoi. And even though I only read yaoi from time to time, I read that some mangakas start to draw the guys that do not look that differently even though most still do and I am sure will do.

          1. BunnyGypsy

            Yeah, I totally understand. I love reading a variety of sub-genres (and having a variety of heroes) in my romance stuff as well. :smile:

            Yup, I’ve seen some yaoi recently in which the guys both are “big” or “seme-like”. I was just thinking of the most common yaoi I’ve seen in the past in which those kinds of stereotypes occur. (I haven’t read yaoi in a long, long time, though, lol. I read slash fanfiction now, heh.)

            Actually, if I remember correctly, for the more “buff” types, I think there is something called “Bara” manga, which is like yaoi, but with more “buff” types of guys (and is done by and for gay men, I think?).

            Ah, here is a wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bara_(genre)

            Here is another article with some links to some bara-ish stuff:
            http://www.yaoi911.com/how-to-find-bara-in-english/

            1. Sirius

              So sorry for missing your comment. You are definitely better versed in yaoi than me, I did not know that it is called bara-manga :)

  2. BunnyGypsy

    Sounds very interesting, even though I’m not fond of too, too much action in my romance-y goodness. But I love sci-fi plots, so yeah. :smile:

    1. Sirius

      Please consider coming back and sharing your thoughts with us, if you decide to get this one :)

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