We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
This is a dark, bleak, beautifully written book that was, at times, uncomfortable to read. It’s set in the future, where only those in the Dome remain pure, and those outside have been fused with whatever they were close to when the Detonation occurred. Most of the country is doing it’s best to survive, clutching at hope wherever they can find it.
There is quite a wide cast of characters, with several semi-romantic pairings – this was actually nice, considering SO many YA novels have a strong romantic thread in them. I think my favourite characters were Pressia, Bradwell, and El-Capitan, they were the ones that stood out for me most – or perhaps it was just that I felt greater compassion for them as they were the wretches. Pressia and Bradwell have this sweet, subtle swell of emotion between them and I couldn’t help but hope they would both make it out of the book alive. Partridge and Lyda, the two main Pure’s in the book were less engaging for me, though I can’t really place my finger on why.
Although the book had a slow build up, I am pleased I stuck with it. I found myself quite caught up in this new vision of the world, it was creepy on so many levels, but I couldn’t help but see a kind of beauty in the mutation of the wretches. There is a scene with a group of mothers, their babies and children now literally a part of their bodies. I could see myself as one of them, so often are my young ones in my arms.
If I had one criticism of the book it would be that there were a lot of coincidences and people/items/information showing up at JUST the right time. I think this was mainly down to the fact that the two main characters didn’t really have any idea about what was happening behind the scenes. I am hoping that happens less in the next book, but regardless, will certainly be giving it a read to see what happens next.
Anyways… it’s a good book, if you like dark and uncomfortable reads. I think some readers will love it, and others may find that it’s not their cup of tea.