Author: Julianna Baggott
Published: Headline Publishing Group, 2012
Amazon Summary: ”We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.
Pressia Belze has lived outside of the Dome ever since the detonations. Struggling for survival she dreams of life inside the safety of the Dome with the ‘Pure’.
Partridge, himself a Pure, knows that life inside the Dome, under the strict control of the leaders’ regime, isn’t as perfect as others think.
Bound by a history that neither can clearly remember, Pressia and Partridge are destined to forge a new world.”
Cover art: The version I bought caught my attention because it was very simple, and the flaming font on a black background with the small designs (Pressia’s grandfather’s fan and Bradwell’s birds) hidden in the letters, it was intriguing. Of course the “love The Hunger Games, love Pure” label on it helped.
Premise: The world as we know it (or at least the US) was destroyed in a series of bomb blasts known by survivors as the Detonations. Some were lucky enough to be taken into the Dome, full of “Pures” who escaped the bombs and live a comparatively normal, though stifled, life. Outside of the Dome, among the cities of rubble, survivors of the blasts suffer mutations and fusions. Pressia, who has mild burns and a doll’s head fused to one hand, escaped lightly compared to some of the “beasts” and those who were fused to the ground or to other people. It’s interesting to see how life would continue in that world; markets and trade still exist, there are small religious groups and some form of government or army known as the OSR who are believed to oppose the Dome. There is a lot of world-building which might make this book too heavy and complicated for some teenagers, so it has been marketed as an adult book over YA despite the ages of the main characters.
Characters: Through the eyes of the main character, Pressia, we are introduced to the world she has known as long as she can remember. The small games of “I Remember” she plays allow us to see what endures of the world familiar to us and how trivial things like balloons and sunglasses seem in comparison to the stark brutality of the post-Detonations world. We see the other side of that life through Partridge, who is equally naïve, living a sheltered life inside the Dome. Their two lives both seem unappealing – those outside the Dome have freedom, and while they think the Pures must have it perfect, those in the Dome are relentlessly controlled. When they meet, it seems inevitable that they are going to try and forge a new world from those ruins. There is a host of other characters who helped to populate the ashes of Pressia’s world; Ingership with his half-metal face and his wife in her body stocking are just as disturbing as El Capitan, with his “halfwit” brother Helmud fused on his back for eternity, and the Dome’s mutated Special Forces. I was wary of a love triangle being forced between Pressia, Partridge and Lyda, and was glad that didn’t happen. Lyda wasn’t developed much as a character and the deviations to her POV seemed pointless. Bradwell was interesting, as someone older who remembered more of the old world and had been resisting the Dome all his life. However, his bitterness and constant lectures got old quickly, and though there were a few genuine moments between him and Pressia I don’t think their relationship was developed enough for their feelings at the end of the book to be that valid.
Plot: There isn’t much of one. The story focuses so much on building the world, comparing it to the one that came before, contrasting the Dome to the world outside it, exploring conspiracy theories involving Partridge’s parents and dragging along a couple of love interests just to round it out that it takes a while for anything to actually happen. Even by the end of the book, not much has been resolved, so at least it ensures that you have to read the sequel to get any answers. The book is driven more by small moments between characters (like El Capitan finding out what Helmud was really doing literally behind his back, or Partridge having to sacrifice a body part, or Pressia’s curiosity about Bradwell and longing for family).
Other comments: Overall this book seemed to be setting up its sequel more than anything.The science is much closer to fantasy and requires some suspension of disbelief. I would still recommend it, though people should be aware that despite the marketing strategy it’s nothing like The Hunger Games, aside from being set in a destroyed future world.