Hell Divers II: Ghosts (Hell Divers Trilogy, Book 2), by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

It’s nearly impossible to describe this book without a major spoiler for the first book in the series. If you’d like to keep that a surprise before you read it, here’s the place to stop.

When book one of the Hill Divers trilogy ended, X (Xavier Rodriguez) was floating in space having missed his rendezvous with the main ship. He had fought off the hideous siren monsters that had followed him up into the stratosphere. Wounded and bound to fall back to earth it was pretty clear that he was dead.

Book two opens with the surprising information that X survived. He’s now alone back on an earth that is a nuclear wasteland with massive storms sweeping through and monsters everywhere.

Making his way around the area where he fell back to earth he’s found weapons, a cache of food, and, in a cryogenics lab, found frozen people and one frozen dog. He thawed out the dog, made protective clothing for it and now has a companion. He also found a way to send radio signals.

The story jumps to eight years later. There have been major changes in the ship. Captain Ashe retired and, shortly after, died of cancer … a common disease for many on the ship now circling the globe. The new captain is Leon Jordan, who has developed a relationship with X’s love interest Katrina. Captain Jordan is overcautious. He’ll barely let the Hell Divers make worthwhile dives for replacement equipment. He’s also become a paranoid leader. Worse yet, he has received information that a message has been received from survivors on earth. He also knows that X survived and has been signalling the ship, but he’s determined to “protect” Katrina from the information.

With the growing intrigue on the ship some of the Hell Divers discover information about the survivor’s message along with information that the monsters on earth were part of a genetics project before the bombs hit.

As with the last book, Smith writes top-notch heroes and great action sequences. The new generation of Hell Divers has a great collection of men and women willing to risk their lives to keep the ship working. But now they need to go against orders on a drop to earth, and into one of the dangerous “red zones”, to look for survivors and also to investigate a secret plan that the previous captain had to move the population of the ship down to earth and underground, sure that this last ship can’t stay in the sky forever.

Other than X only being part of the beginning and ending of the book, this second volume reads much the same as the first one in the trilogy.  If you read and liked that one, as I did, this one will not be a disappointment other than the need to adjust to a new cast of characters.