Under Ground by SL Grey book review: how the world ends

Writing duo SL Grey tackle the apocalypse in Under Ground


The writing team of SL Grey (The Three’s Sarah Lotz and The Mall’s Louis Greenberg) look to the end of the world for their latest collaboration. Kind of. This grim tale throws a group of people into a confined space that should be perfectly safe.

A super-flu has hit the US’s West Coast with devastating impact. With chances of survival seemingly low, our East Coast-ers scurry for The Sanctum; a subterranean apartment block for the super-rich with everything you need to survive the apocalypse. Sealed in tight, this mismatched group is prepared to wait it out.

All is not well, however. The wi-fi is down, the elevator doesn’t work, the med-bay is a joke, and it’s clear that corners have been cut. Tempers fray quickly as tensions rise between the ‘lucky’ ones, but when a body is found and the only way out is sealed shut, it’s clear that things will get worse.

The writers do an excellent job of quickly introducing us to the group, from nerdy teen Jae and the muscle-bound racist Guthrie family, to weary repairman Will and the correctly panicking South African babysitter Cait.

They’re clever enough to know that people panicking in a confined space are scarier than things that go bump in the night, and expertly ratchet up the tension to push these characters to their limits. Brett Guthrie is a particularly scary creation; a teen so lacking in empathy and brain cells that he seems capable of anything.

There are points when it seems to linger on the misery too long, the whodunit fading into the background as less interesting characters mope and drink, but it’s atmospheric, readable and all too plausible. Under Ground is a grim, effective chiller that takes you to the edge and leaves you there.