by J. J. Marshall
...Humanity Falls... is the second book in J. J. Marshall's The World's End Trilogy. Also available: When the World Ends... (read my interview with the author in a previous blog post). Coming soon: ...To a New Life.
Landon Corbett is spiralling out of control. From the wastelands of London to an isolated mountain village; from New York City to the International Space Station, Landon Corbett's revenge knows no limits.
Alec is at the heart of the war that now rages between the two factions of humanity. Caught in the middle, he no longer holds the key to peace - Alec is the key to peace. Landon Corbett wants him dead and the Alliance of Spheres on Earth is only too happy to hand him over for the chance to save the lives of everyone on Earth.
But from those with corrupt morals to those with hearts of passion and gratitude, Alec and his friends are given the chance to fight one more time. And after six months, the war is reaching its climax. There is only one resolution to stopping the Board of Officials: cut the head off of the snake and kill Landon Corbett. But he remains as elusive and dangerous as ever.
Alec, Jonah, Sky, Jay and Trent have suffered terrible losses, but the biggest loss is yet to come and it will leave none of them untouched.
When Jay rematerialised he instinctively knew that he was in Space. It wasn’t that it was where he’d assumed Landon would retreat to, nor was it the slight reduction in gravity that made him feel lighter than he had a few seconds ago. It was the sheer number of Board Military soldiers pointing their weapons at him that made him sure he was no longer on Earth.
They surrounded him – a hundred of them at least – all with stern, sturdy expressions and guns raised to kill him within seconds. Landon Corbett stood in front of them, his arms folded smugly over his chest and a wry smile decorating his lips. He watched Jay closely and observed every tiny reaction to his new surroundings. It amused Landon to see how startled the old man was, once confronted with a small army. Although he wasn’t as scared as Landon had been hoping.
The truth was he’d been hoping that Alec would be the one to be standing here now. Landon had known, almost instinctively, that someone would follow him through the teleportation booth. There was a small time delay of approximately five minutes, between teleportation and arrival in space, which had given Landon enough time to assemble some troops.
‘Hello’ Landon said, surprised. ‘I don’t believe we’ve officially met?’ the politeness was all false and borderline-mockery. Jay knew it, and so did Landon.
‘Name’s Jay Jones’ Jay grunted, still taking in the sheer number of guns pointing at him. They were in a large white room. Just as there had been at the town hall, there was another teleportation booth in this room. Jay was the only one standing in it.
‘Jones?’ Landon made the link in his head almost instantly. ‘You must be Jonah’s father – I believe our sons are quite good friends’.
‘You don’t get to call Alec your son’ Jay spat, despite himself. He looked around his surroundings in an attempt to try and figure out how to reverse the teleportation.
‘It won’t send you back’ Landon remarked as he studied Jay. ‘You need to reset it before it can be used again’ Landon said, moving to deliberately block the exit. ‘Similarly, no one else can follow you through as long as you’re standing in there. Of course, that means that no one is coming to help you, Jay Jones. It’s just you and me’.
‘And the small army you like to hide behind’ Jay commented snidely, turning his full attention on Landon. For the first time he looked at him properly. Despite his fit build – his biceps were straining against the seams of his shirt – Landon Corbett was actually quite short. Jay had begun to shrink as he’d grown older and now nearly sixty, he was little over 5’5. The funny thing was, Landon was barely taller than him. ‘Looks like you’re compensating’.
Landon stiffened and his face grimaced. He wouldn’t be humiliated in front of his men. He clenched his fists menacingly, more than prepared to resort to violence and beat Jay down if he needed to.
‘And what are you doing here, Jay Jones?’ Landon asked. Every time he used his full name it was another verbal torment, but it failed to ruffle Jay in the slightest. ‘Are you trying to be something you’re not? Trying to be the action hero? I think we all know you’re a bit past that’ Landon chuckled with a contemptuous wink.
So did Jay. And Landon hated it. Jay could see perfectly well that Landon was now trying to humiliate him in front of the assembled soldiers. But it wasn’t going to work: Jay didn’t care.
‘You don’t know me at all’ Jay smiled, thinking of all the arguments he’d endured with Alec and Jonah and the others in the cottage over what their next course of action would be. Jay was a pacifist to his core.
‘And you presume you know me, I suppose?’ Landon’s eyebrows arched expectantly.
‘All I need to know about you is that you’re just a sociopath with anger issues and a taste for revenge against a harmless seventeen year old boy’ Jay sneered, putting Landon down with a single sentence. His cheeks flushed pink and his ears reddened rapidly.
‘I’d hardly call the boy who destroyed an entire city harmless’ Landon shrugged.
‘You destroyed London when you shot the Prime Minister and then the Board rained fire down on it’ Jay flared, becoming suddenly angry. Blood pulsed through his veins at high speed and he felt himself tensing up. The longer he spent bickering back and forth with Landon the more he realised how intolerable and how sick in the head he truly was.
‘What are you really doing here, old man?’ Landon snarled.
‘I was going to kill you’ Jay retorted frankly. ‘I was going to kill you to end this miserable war and to save the people I love’.
‘Aw’ Landon faked wiping tears from his eyes. ‘How very sweet. But I’m afraid it will take more than just killing me to end this war. Myself and the Board of Officials are no longer alone in our goals; we have an army of soldiers who all passionately share our aims and intentions’.
‘They’re brainwashed, you mean’ Jay responded flatly. The last time he and the others had seen Takeshi, he had explained to them what the Board’s next plan of action was going to be. ‘I know all about your programme’.
‘Then you should know how they will obey my orders without hesitation’ Landon said, turning to the soldier nearest to him...
Meet the Characters
Alec is the main protagonist; he's seventeen years old, bright and intelligent with a strong sense of what is right and wrong. It is this sense that carries him away from his normal life (or as normal as you can get living aboard a Space Station) and onto the path of liberating Humanity.
Alec is a lonely teenager - he doesn't go to school because his father's reputation has tarnished his own image. Instead he's tutored, and his tutor is the only person whom he has contact with other than his father... when he's not sneaking off, that is.
He is a rebel at heart and it is fitting that his destiny should change and bring him onto this course. Frequently, Alec sneaks down to the poorer, lower levels where he rapidly becomes best friends with Jonah Jones.
Landon is the main antagonist, although he is clearly misled by the Board of Officials. Through the novel his lust for power and control grows to overwhelming levels as he strays away from antagonising just Alec to torturing the entire Human Race.
There is something unsettling and clearly sociopathic about Landon's mentality. His strategies for resolutions to the Board's problems are steeped in deadly intentions and he acts without emotion or remorse, making him all-the-more dangerous.
Jonah is the same age as Alec; a mixed-race boy living with his father and a group of strangers inside the cramped and confined living quarters of their Habitation on Level1. Level1 is the 'poorest' level of the ISS and that status is also attached to the people that live there.
He's quite naive in his approach and outlook to life and the world. He enjoys the finer things - the things which Alec has overlooked in his life of luxury on Level3. His naivity is a strength which he brings to his friendship with Alec and he teaches him many new things.
Jay is Jonah's father - a big American man from the old deep-south. He's outright loveable and someone that everyone feels safe with. He's quick to stick up for the right person, even if he doesn't know who they are. He has a big heart and is especially fond of Alec, demonstrating a willingness to help both him and Jonah through their tribulations without being afraid to make sacrifices along the way...
Trey is a huge guy; well over six-feet tall and this, along with his incredibly muscular physique makes him an intimidating figure. But beneath this strong exterior Trey is gentle and humble. He is older than Alec and Jonah by a few years but capable of engaging with them on their level none-the-less. His older-age also puts him on a level with Jay and he has good relations with all of the characters. His own moral compass is very much pointing in the same direction as Alec's: he believes so much in the cause that Alec is fighting for that he is willing to do anything to make it happen. He's the first to say if something needs to be done and the first to volunteer to do it.
Sky is very much a girl in a man's world, but she's strong, determined and can hold her own. She's the same age as Alec and Jonah but you wouldn't know it. Having lived in the slums of London for all of her life, she's very tough and reluctant to let anyone into her life. It is with an unwilling sense of curiosity that she cautiously enters Alec's life, and thus his mission to liberate Humanity.
This is the second installment in the trilogy and it's highly recommended that you read the first novel, When the World Ends.... This is another refreshing, original, and imaginative story from J. J. Marshall. The story kicks right off from the continuation of the first book, where Alec and his friends are in hiding after the destruction of London. The conniving and somewhat scary, Landon Corbett is hell bent on destroying everything and anything in his path, and it's up to a Alec and his team to stop him. The story did start off slow for me but it's needed to define the characters and develop the plot even further. Alec and his friends travel all over the world; which is a plus for me. The surroundings of their new destinations were very detailed and I felt I was right there with them. I especially loved the scenes in New York City, since that's my hometown. Yup...showing my Bronx pride.
Overall, this was a great continuation to the first novel. I loved the incorporation of new characters, as well as seeing how the old one progress throughout the story. I'd like to point out that this story is long, probably about 600 pages, which is too much for me. I caught myself at times skimming through the pages to get to the next scenes, but not out of boredom; more out of impatience. Action packed suspense with jaw-dropping turn of events; this book will keep you glued to your seat til the very end. I, for one, can't wait to read the conclusion of this series and am anxiously waiting for its release.
Guest Post by J. J. Marshall
Ten Fun Facts
1. The location of Alec and co. at the start of ...Humanity Falls... (Glenridding) is a place in the English Lake District that I visited on a university trip in 2011. I fell in love with it (especially the little area where their cottage is) so much that I just had to put it in my book.
2. Because I’m a poor student and have never been to New York, I chose locations for the New York section of the novel (Great Piece Meadows and the church near Broadway, for example) using Google Maps!
3. Even though it’s twice the size of the first book, the second book was actually written in less time.
4. If you put all the titles of the three novels together they form a sentence...
5. The first two books shared a very similar music playlist (see below) but I’m developing a new one for the third novel as I think I’ve exhausted all that those songs had to offer me!
6. Originally, ...Humanity Falls... was going to end about 150 pages shorter than it did, but I wanted the cliff-hanger ending which you now get and I’ve been told it was worth putting in!
7. In addition to the characters that are carried over from the first novel, ...Humanity Falls... sees the introduction of no less than twelve new vital characters, as well as the reintroduction of characters that had previously been left behind...
8. What I love most about this second book is the scope and scale of it. You get to see so much of the world that Alec and co. live in and it was really fun to write and take them to new places.
9. The scene I had the most fun writing in ...Humanity Falls... is the square-off between Jay and Landon (you can read it in the excerpt!). It’s something I’d wanted since the first book and I was so happy when I got to do it!
10. I went to Lake Garda with my Dad for my 21st birthday and was able to write some of ...Humanity Falls... out there. I loved writing abroad and wish I could do it more often (better get saving!).
Linkin Park – Burn it Down
Evanescence – Made of Stone (Renholder remix)
Jack White & Alicia Keys – Another Way to Die
Flyleaf – Arise
Nickelback – Far Away
Nickelback – If Today Was Your Last Day
P!nk – I’m Not Dead
Paramore – Monster
Paramore – Now
Taylor Swift – Haunted
Taylor Swift – Safe & Sound
We Are the Fallen – Tear the World Down
Imagine Dragons - Radioactive
From the Author
I am currently studying a BSc Physical Geography Degree at the University of Reading in Berkshire, England, with the intention of pursuing a career in teaching secondary school pupils. I was born and raised in England and am presently twenty years old. When the World Ends... is my first publication and I’m incredibly excited to be working with the people at AuthorHouse in bringing my story to real, tangible pages!
Writing has always been a hobby and a passion of mine from a very young age; I can recall writing a novel on my first family computer which was inspired (as well as a being blatant rip-off!) of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It was really this book; the first full novel I had ever read by myself, that inspired me to write for myself and to create worlds beyond our own and fictions that can redefine the past or give suppositions about the future.
I would list J. K. Rowling as one of my top inspirations, as well as the likes of Anthony Horowitz, Iain Banks, Charlaine Harris, and Suzanne Collins. I also draw inspiration from TV shows and scriptwriters, such as Joss Whedon, J. J. Abrams, Maurissa Tancharoen, Steven Moffat, and Jane Espenson. Their work and the way that they construct characters and stories spur and challenge me to create my own little realities.
So welcome to one of my little realities! I hope you enjoy it.