The Deep Beneath & The Makers by Natalie Wright (H.A.L.F. 1 & 2) Review

Title: The Deep Beneath | Author: Natalie Wright | Publisher: Boadicea Press | Pub. Date: 2015-1-7 | Pages: 292 | ISBN13: 9781505524727 | Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Potential sexual assault | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Deep Beneath

H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill? 

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

Book cover for The Deep Beneath

The Deep Beneath Review

The Deep Beneath was a well-written young adult science fiction novel. It introduces us to the characters we will follow throughout the next two books. Natalie Wright does a good job of keeping it at a young adult level, but not pandering to the hormonal crowd too much. Yes, there is a little bit of a romance mentioned, but as the novel is almost immediately a fight for survival, it’s not much of a problem.

Ian, Jack, and Erika are a likable bunch, and feel like ‘real’ friends. They’re not all buddy-buddy on every single aspect of what they do. They ram heads frequently over things. Erika is not treated with any particular deference because she’s a girl. (It probably helps that the gorgeous one of the bunch is gay.) H.A.L.F. 9 is an interesting character in his own right. I liked watching him interact with the trio. I think the author made the right decision in not having them click instantly, nor having everyone be super accepting of the situation. Again, it was one of those things that made it feel a bit more realistic than it otherwise might have.

The rest of the characters are almost entirely dislikable. Especially the person in control of the base. It’s rare that a character in a book makes me want to punch them so quickly, but that’s exactly how I felt within pages. 

I love the take that Natalie Wright has on aliens and how certain elements of our world might affect them. I haven’t read it anywhere else. It’s such an interesting concept that it remains one of my favorite aspects of the books. A fairly simple thing, but so effective.

The pacing feels a bit slow, but steady. The dialogue is believable. The setting is extremely effective in The Deep Beneath. There’s just something about the desert that makes it feel like the perfect setting for something otherworldly to happen.

This is definitely my favorite of the first two books in the H.A.L.F trilogy. Natalie Wright is a talented science fiction author and she does a great job of doing a young adult book that isn’t all focused on the hormones. (It probably helps that almost immediately they were all fighting for survival, but still.) The end of the novel definitely sets up for the rest of the trilogy, but at the same time, you could stop at one and still feel like you got a complete story.

The Deep Beneath makes you wonder: How would you react if you encountered someone like H.A.L.F. 9? Would you do the right thing, would you be afraid of him, would you run? What? I guess no one really know how they’re going to react to something until they experience it.

Title: The Makers | Author: Natalie Wright | Publisher: Boadicea Press | Pub. Date: 2016-4-7 | Pages: 362 | ISBN13: 9781523820924| Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Maternal death | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Makers

“The Makers” is the follow-up to Natalie Wright’s multiple award-winning debut science fiction novel “H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath.” “We’ve seen grey aliens on T.V. and in movies. We may think we know all about them. But what if everything we think we know is wrong?” Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped? The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus? Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay? Caught up in their personal battles and focused on our war with the grey aliens, will any of them realize the true threat that looms over us all before it’s too late? 

Book cover for The Makers

Even though I really liked The Deep Beneath, I ran out of steam on The Makers about halfway through. It’s not that it was a bad book (it really isn’t), but it does suffer from a little bit of sequel-itis. I did finish the book, but it was a conscious effort on my part to do so, rather than any particular drive to continue the story. Now, keep in mind though, I’m an atypical case because I don’t really like reading series. I prefer to stop at the first book 90% of the time, and it takes (generally) a lot of sarcasm, action, and monsters to keep me reading. Given the nature of The Makers, it only hit about, pardon the pun, half the marks for me to stay interested.

The Makers splits its time between two of the main characters from The Deep Beneath. They’re in entirely different, albeit both very deadly, situations. Jack’s situation is fairly straightforward action-thriller. Erika’s is the one that stays decidedly in the sci-fi zone. I never thought that I would actually change my view on some of the characters from the first book, but I definitely did. My views on Jack and Ian changed rather drastically, as they did for one other person that played a pivotal role in the first book. I mean, don’t get me wrong, that person is still a Grade A douche bag, but, considering the circumstances… Well, let’s just say that I can respect what they’re trying to do even while I still want to slap them silly. 

In regards to the alien’s weakness from the first book, I was definitely caught off guard by a revelation in The Makers. It does make me want to read the third book just to see exactly how she’s going to tie the two things together. Because right now it doesn’t really seem to make a lot of sense.

And, of course, there’s the true threat referenced in the synopsis. I’m not sure how I feel about this particular threat. I will say that I appreciate the idea of the krindor, though! I would love to see an illustration of this particular threat in action. The author has a solid imagination and even though I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat, I can still admit to liking the sandbox she’s created so far.

The pacing in The Makers was a bit better than in the first. The dialogue, descriptions, etc, are all consistently well-done. There were a few lines in here that I particularly appreciated for the truths that they were. (Especially the one about looking like a model and acting with balls of steel.) Hopefully the third book, H.A.L.F. Origins, finishes everything off in a satisfying manner. We shall see!

Trivia: Even though I didn’t pick up these books until recently, Natalie Wright wrote a guest post about the series for Sci-Fi & Scary a while back. It was called “What Inspired You to Write Science Fiction” . Click on the title to go check it out.

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