Nathalie Mallet






LTDBooks, Inc., June 2005
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Science Fiction Adventure Chick Lit

Fifteen year old Samantha stole a watch, and was sentenced to ten years hard labor in the mines on Carmel 5. The average survival time in the mines is eight years. If she is to make it to the end of her sentence, she will need a lot of help from her fellow convicts.

To make sure criminals get even-handed treatment, sentencing in the Dominions justice system is handled by droids. So when Samantha is caught in a mine cave-in, and finds a droid in a precarious position, she takes a hollow form of revenge. The result? A life sentence.

Escape from four miles underground is supposed to be impossible. Thatís where the lifers work. But Crew 56, Sammyís crew and new family, has some especially skilled people in it. When their rivalry with Crew 79 gets too intense, and the new mine director gets too dangerous, they are ready to run. Almost.

Up through the caverns and across the wasteland, they dodge dangers animal, human and mineral. This part might have dragged a bit, because the dangers all seem to be variations on a single theme. What saves it is that the interactions among the escaped women are evolving, ultra-naturally. Once the remains of the group reaches an outpost of civilization, the story freshens up again, while the relationships keep developing. THE DIGGING CREW is actually chick lit in a new setting Ė assuming chick lit included characters as dangerous as Alexis or Black Eagle, as bizarrely classy as Angie, as strangely motherly as Muscle and Blast, or as unique as Francine.

Author Nathalie Mallet has a good style for writing adventure. Itís easy to believe in the toughness of these survivor women when they are described in her crisp, atmospheric prose, which crackles along ready to reignite the action at any moment. As a flight adventure, THE DIGGING CREW doesnít have the variety of plot or the emotional immersion of a Jack Higgins, for example, but Sammy and her group kidnapped my attention and held it until their demands were met.

THE DIGGING CREW is a promising debut, an unusual twist on cooperation and community. Fortunately for readers, Nathalie Mallet already has another book in the works.

June 2005 Review


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