|Grand Central |
by Julianna Baggot
Why would anyone want to leave a perfectly safe, protected environment like "The Dome" after a nuclear detonation, especially when those who survived outside The Dome are dangerous, hungry mutants? Partridge wants to leave, but only because he believes his mother may be alive and living somewhere amongst the "Wretches" outside, and he knows he has to find her. After his escape, he meets Pressia, running for her life from the deadly OSR, a militant organization that rules the new world. Unexpectedly, the two join forces, but neither can anticipate the truths nor the treachery their partnership will uncover.
What makes this novel unique might also be its only real weakness. The Wretches who live outside the dome all have experienced scars, deformities, mutations or fusions as a result of the nuclear detonation. This is science fiction and some stretching is required, but it’s hard to imagine people with birds, dogs, rocks, and even other people fused to their bodies; it’s even harder to imagine both humans and creatures still living after such a fusion. And yet, it is that very quirky detail that adds flavor to the work and sets this novel apart from a sea of post-apocalyptic works. The author makes the reader see these creatures and this scorched earth through incredibly descriptive language. Pressia survives with a doll head fused to her hand, her grandfather has a fan fused in his throat, Pressia’s nemesis-turned-friend, Bradwell ,survives with birds "nesting" in his back, and El Capitan, the vicious and emotionally broken OSR captain, lives with his brother Helmud fused to his back. Perhaps these deformities, and the deformities of every character outside the Dome, every character who is not "Pure," add a fascinating, morbid level of interest to the novel. Told in the alternating voices of Pressia and Partridge, the story contains plenty of fighting and bloody battles along the way to satisfy even the most hard-core zombie fans, while at the same time keeping characters realistically drawn with very human weaknesses and emotions. But what really cements the story and makes it enjoyable are the clues that Pressia and Partridge uncover on their journey, unexpected clues that reveal secrets about the past neither could have ever imagined—secrets and new evidence that those who think they are safe in the Dome may be even more at risk than the Wretches outside.